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July 2018
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EDITO
Friday, 20 July 2018
Caricom ministers of trade, including Dr. Timothy Harris, are gathered in Brussels, Belgium for a series of trade meetings involving representatives from Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and their counterparts from the European Union (EU).
The meetings in the main will seek to advance the agenda in relation to the economic partnership agreements successor to the Lome Comventions. Dr. Harris said the EU Council’s decision of sugar price regime will no doubt spur much animated discussions among ACP sugar producing states. Given the high importance of agriculture to our socio-economic development, the ACP must seek to advance agriculture in the Economic Partnership Agreement in the context of adjustment for the development of new and alternative products with export markets and agriculture in support of our tourism sector.
It is important this so-called partnership agreement advance our countries towards a path of sustainable development.
Asked to comment on the importance of the WTO trade talks in Hong Kong for the Caribbean, Dr. Harris said the Caribbean countries want to be part of the global trading system, but not at any cost. In this regard, the Caribbean trade ministers will push for a favourable outcome to Caribbean interests in such areas as small economies, special and differential treatment, public health, rules and trade facilitation. The major items of interest to Caricom states are agriculture and services. Dr. Harris said the ACP Secretariat will provide an update on the status of the negotiations.
EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, explained and debated at length yesterday with the ACP Group, that there are other issues outside the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) which will have an impact on the economies of some of the G90s (Group of 90 developing countries). He referred to the erosion of preferences and in particular the changes to the sugar and bananas regimes which have been agreed very recently. He declared to fully understand the concerns about the social and economic impact which these reforms will have on ACP countries, but these changes were inevitable since were forced on the EU by WTO. The EU is trying to minimise the negative consequences but obviously more is needed in terms of providing economic support for easing the adjustments. He dclared that the EU is committed to maintain and further develop a real partnership with the ACP and other weak and vulnerable developing countries, the G90, through, for instance, the Economic Partnership Agreement which are being negotiated and financial support. On sugar, the EU has already committed 40 millions € but more will be possible in the future after 2006, depending on the adoption of the financial perspectives.
The specific objective of the ACP-EU Water Facility is to boost the sustainable delivery of water and sanitation infrastructure and improve water governance and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) practices in ACP countries by helping to address the financing gap.
In March 2004, the EU Council decided to consider allocating a total amount of €500 million for an ACP-EU Water Facility, to be funded from the conditional €1 billion of the 9th EDF. The establishment of the ACP-EU Water Facility and its funding was endorsed by the ACP-EU Council of Ministers at its meetings in Gaborone in May 2004 and Luxemburg in June 2005. The two tranches of € 250 million each have now been made available.
Today is the 18th World AIDS-day. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized in 1981. In 2005, close to 5 million people were newly infected with the virus, more than 3 million of these in sub-Saharan Africa alone.
- The European Union has made the fight against AIDS a priority in its development policy and is the biggest contributor to the UN's Global Fund.
On the occasion of World AIDS Day 2005, and against the background of increasing HIV prevalence, members of the European Union, reaffirm their commitment to tackle the AIDS pandemic in a comprehensive and integrated way, including prevention, treatment, care and research, and in particular to address the HIV prevention gap, which left unchecked will undermine the whole AIDS response.
- The ACP Group calls on international donors and national governments to increase financial resources for research and development of HIV vaccines and microbicides as well as enhancing the sharing of information and good practices aimed at halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS. It also pledged to undertake, within the ACP Group, and in collaboration with its development partners and Non-Governmental Organisations, all necessary actions to continue to support the global initiatives against HIV/AIDS, such as the Global Fund to fight against Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis (GFATM) and national and regional programmes geared to mitigate HIV/AIDS infections through intra-ACP cooperation.
- The CTA and FAO, together with other partners, work in the area of the impact of the pandemic on the agricultural sector and the rural communities (see http://www.cta.int).
The EU Council adopted on 29 November a regulation[1] setting a new single tariff rate for banana imports with a view to the entry into force of a tariff-only regime as from 1 January 2006, as well as a zero tariff rate quota for bananas originating in ACP countries. The normal tariff rate for banana imported from Most Favoured Nations (MFN) suppliers will be EUR 176 per tonne. An annual import quota of 775 000 tonnes subject to a zero-duty rate will be opened for imports of bananas from ACP countries under the ACP-EU partnership agreement, starting from 2006. The Commission will adopt transitional measures in order to facilitate the switchover from the existing to the new arrangements.
The EU notified the World Trade Organisation (WTO), on 31 January 2005, its intention to replace its concessions on bananas, but a WTO arbitrator's award concluded last August that the tariff rate of EUR 230/tonne proposed by the EU was not consistent with WTO rules as it would not enable total market access for countries benefiting from MFN status. The EU could not reach an agreement on the tariff rate with some countries, namely, Ecuador and Panama, having a principal supplying interest, and Colombia and Costa Rica, having a substantial supplier interest. The EU revised the proposal in the light of the arbitrator's findings and in a second arbitration award, issued on 27 October, the WTO arbitrator concluded that the revised proposal for an MFN tariff rate of EUR 187/tonne failed to rectify the matter.
[1] The regulation was adopted at the Competitiveness Council session by qualified majority.