Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

March 2018
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Sunday, 18 March 2018
European Commission disappointed with WTO arbitrators’ ruling against proposed banana import tariff
The European Commission will study carefully the implications of today’s decision by the World Trade Organisation’s arbitrators to reject the proposed new import tariff for bananas. The Commission had proposed a single tariff of 187 euros per tonne for bananas imported from countries – mainly in Latin America - enjoying Most Favoured Nation status, as well as a duty-free quota of 775,000 tonnes for ACP bananas, as from 1 January 2006. It is regrettable that the arbitrators did not use this opportunity to provide more clarity as to how this long-standing dispute could be resolved.
Mariann Fischer Boel, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: “We are surprised and disappointed that the arbitrators did not back our proposal. We believed that the system we proposed would have maintained access to our markets in a fair manner. We calculated the proposed tariff in a neutral and transparent manner, based on a comprehensive legal and economic analysis. We will now carefully study the decision before deciding how to proceed.”

In an effort to put an end to the long-standing banana dispute, the EU agreed with Ecuador and the United States in 2001 to move from a complex import system based on a combination of tariffs and quotas for MFN bananas to a regime solely based on a tariff by 1 January 2006, and obtained two waivers from its WTO obligations for the preference granted to bananas from the ACP countries under the terms of the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement (the Cotonou Agreement).
The arbitration decision reached today was requested by Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama and Venezuela, while the relevant ACP countries were granted limited participation rights.
The first arbitration award issued on 1 August 2005 found that the proposed tariff of €230/tonne would not result in at least maintaining total market access for suppliers under the Most Favoured Nations (MFN) clause.
On 12 September, the EU presented a revised proposal in the light of the arbitrator’s award, for an import duty of € 187/tonne for MFN suppliers and a tariff quota of 775,000 tons at zero duty for bananas originating in ACP countries. The revised proposal was designed to at least maintain total market access for MFN suppliers and an equivalent level of preference for ACP bananas.

The Commission had three rounds of consultations with the interested parties on 5 August, 16 September and 21 September. Regrettably, on none of these occasions did they engage in a meaningful discussion or present a counter proposal. The Commission also held consultations with the interested ACP countries on 4 August and 12 September.
On 26 September, the Commission requested a second arbitration on its revised proposal.
See Euforic new page on European finance for development is now on line. It provides an overview of the main development finance institutions and instruments, featuring also information on what the EU is doing in relation to microcredit and microfinance.
On October 24-25, an informal Development Ministers Council was held to discuss issues related to the Development Policy Statement, trade and development, the EU-Africa partnership, and the quality of aid delivery. The summary report lists a number of decisions and agreements, amongst which to increase aid for the South Asian earthquake, to double sustained aid by 2010, and to facilitate market access for developing countries. In parallel with this meeting, BOND and CONCORD, in cooperation with Make Poverty History organized an international conference for civil society organizations on Europe’s role in making poverty history – 28 October 2005
Friday, 28 October 2005
The UK Presidency hosted an Informal meeting of European Union Development Ministers on the 24 and 25 October in Leeds, chaired by Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn.
Jan Egeland, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed Ministers on the urgent need to respond to the South Asian earthquake. He called for more aid, particularly for shelter and helicopters. Ministers agreed that more money and help needs to be given. European Commissioner Louis Michel said that he would put an additional 80 million Euros (around £54 million) of EC funds to help those affected by the earthquake. This would be in addition to the 110 million Euros (around £70m) of support already committed by Member States and the Commission. Further pledges are expected at a UN meeting in Geneva tomorrow. Ministers also agreed to work to strengthen the UN’s capacity to respond to future disasters.
When Development Ministers last met in May, they agreed to double aid to developing countries by 2010. At Leeds, Development Ministers agreed on the importance of delivering on these commitments and providing sustained predictable funding. Responding to a presentation by Mark Malloch Brown, the UN Secretary General’s Chief of Staff, Ministers agreed that the EU as a whole should actively support reform of the UN, including through improved coordination at country level.

There was a full discussion about the proposed new Development Policy Statement which will set the framework for future European aid spending. The Statement and measures to improve the effectiveness of EU aid, will be debated when Development Ministers meet again on 21-22 November in Brussels.
With only six weeks to the World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong, Ministers were joined by Peter Mandelson, the EU Trade Commissioner. They agreed the importance of increasing opportunities for developing countries to trade their way out of poverty. Although trade between developing countries was important, the EU could do more, notably by: making it easier for producers in developing countries to sell their goods in Europe; providing targeted aid to help producers to take advantage of this increased access; and providing assistance to producers, in sectors such as sugar, who will be affected by changes to the world trading system.
Finally, the meeting discussed the Commission’s recent Communication on Africa. The President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, spoke about how the EU can best support stability, prosperity and development in Africa, in particular by working to strengthen African institutions. There will be further debate on 21-22 November with a view to agreeing a new EU Africa strategy at the European Council of Heads of Government in December. The food crisis in Southern Africa and the situation in Darfur were also discussed.
Wednesday, 26 October 2005
The offices for the European Investment Bank Regional Representation for Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean in Tshwane (Pretoria) were today officially inaugurated by Dr Tomaz Salomão, Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and European Investment Bank’s Vice President Mr. Torsten Gersfelt. This representation office, the third to be opened by the EIB in sub-Saharan Africa, is to play a key role in the EIB’s commitment to build closer ties with its customers and expand operations in the Southern African region, within the framework of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, and the Investment Facility, a funding instrument created by the Agreement and managed by the EIB since its official launch in June 2003. At the same time the new representation will develop stronger links with the South African business community in both the public and the private sectors in the context of the European Investment Bank’s role in the relationship between the European Union and the Republic of South Africa.
The Tshwane Regional Representation intends to increase the effectiveness of EIB activities, in particular in the private sector, and to reinforce its identity. As EIB Vice President Torsten Gersfelt said: “The new Representation Offices underline the EIB’s commitment for support to Africa under the Cotonou Agreement and for South Africa under the special mandate of the Bank. South Africa as the host for the third of our offices in sub-Saharan Africa, underlines both the importance of our relationship with South Africa itself and with the SADC region, which is represented today by Dr. Salomão.”
The EIB Representation in Tshwane will add value in terms of operations and flexibility and European Development Finance in the whole Southern Africa region and potential investors from Angola, through Mozambique, Swaziland and countries on and in the Indian Ocean will have a point of contact and for advice on European Investment Bank and other community financing of projects.
The EIB Regional Representation will also help to improve co-ordination with the European Commission’s grant aid in the whole region in support of governance, regulatory and judicial improvements through the national indicative programmes (NIP) in the region. It will connect with the wide network of local antennae of the “CDE”, Centre for Development of Enterprise and “Pro€invest”, the private sector support instruments under the Cotonou Agreement.
In addition it will strengthen synergies with the EIB’s partners in the European development financing institutions group, the EDFI, and with the World Bank group and other peer institutions.
Two other Regional Representations have been opened in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005, one for East and Central Africa, in Nairobi.