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Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

July 2019
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Friday, 19 July 2019
Further to the pro-active actions that the European Commission has made since April in response to the evolving food security situation in Malawi the Commission has allocated a further €5,000,000 for emergency interventions to support the most vulnerable groups.
This aid is being provided through DG-ECHO, the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department, which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel. The funds are being channelled through NGO’s and UN agencies and will cover a series of interventions such as nutrition, emergency water and sanitation, the provision of emergency agricultural inputs and logistics. DG ECHO-funded interventions will specifically aimed at preventing a further deterioration of the nutritional situation of the most vulnerable groups
This additional funding comes on top of, and will be complementary to, substantial EC contributions for food security interventions in Malawi of € 17.300.000, of which € 16.800.000 has been allocated for food aid and the remainder for safety net programmes. This is a demonstration of the EC’s multi-layered approach, which aims at supporting good sustainable policies as well as immediate relief.
The EC and other donors, working in partnership with the Government of Malawi, started mobilising in April to meet the anticipated shortfall. To date, donors and the Government of Malawi have mobilised 214,000 MT of maize, 18,000 MT of pulses in addition to $ 26 million. The Commission will continue to work in partnership with Government of Malawi to closely monitor the situation as it evolves and to respond accordingly.
Southern Africa faces a food security crisis compounded by political and economic issues. This crisis has to be seen from a broader angle, not only due to adverse weather conditions (droughts, floods) but also due to the political and economic circumstances in each of the affected countries and their combined impact in a regional context. Furthermore, the impact of the HIV/AIDs pandemic exacerbates not only the current situation but also the ability of the region to recover. The crisis has therefore a regional dimension in addition to a series of separate national crises.
This year Malawi has experienced the lowest crop production of the past 7 years causing the President of Malawi to declare a state of national disaster on 14th October 2005.
It is estimated that approximately 4.2 million people - 34 % of the population – have insufficient production or income to meet their minimum food requirements from now until the next harvest in March 2006. The shortfall in production has been compounded by increasing maize prices, which place access to food even further out of the reach of the most vulnerable households, many of whom are already affected and weakened by HIV and AIDS. The majority of those at risk are children.
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Tuesday, 08 November 2005
Questions and Answers with the EU

Cut in agricultural tariffs
Europe has proposed a 60% cut in our highest tariffs and a tariff cap of 100% that will put serious downward pressure on agricultural tariffs in the developed world. This is a very deep cut – reducing the EU’s highest tariffs by more than half. In cutting our average agricultural tariff by 46% it goes much further than the cuts agreed in the Uruguay Round. It provides substantial new market access for importers while exposing European farmers and farmers in ACP countries that export to Europe to a steep but carefully graduated reduction in their protection.

Would developing countries be subject to the same cuts?
No. The European Union has always advocated differential treatment for developing countries. Under the EU proposal, tariff cuts for developing countries would be set at 2/3 of the level of those for developed countries, and the tariff bands would be 1/3 higher. The maximum tariff for developing countries would be 150% rather than 100%. The European Union proposes a Round for Free for the 50 Least Developed Countries (LDCs): these countries will be asked to make no cuts.

What about agricultural subsidies? You have offered a 70% reduction but Oxfam says this is not a cut in current spending.
The EU is proposing to cut trade distorting agricultural subsidies by 70%, and to reduce De Minimus box spending by 80%. It has already offered to eliminate all export subsidies assuming others do the same.
This cut is deep and real – but it is true that it is based on changes that the EU has already undertaken under the 2003 CAP reform. 90% of EU farm spending has already been ‘decoupled’ from production: we are now offering to bind those cuts in Geneva.
When Oxfam talks about ‘not making real cuts’ they are basing this on a picture of the EU’s subsidies landscape that is five years out of date, and has been overtaken by internal reform. Should we be criticised for setting reform in motion which we are now in a position to put into this Round? Of course not.

The EU has been accused of blocking wider access to its agricultural markets for developing countries. How do you respond?
The EU will take no lessons from anyone on market access for the developing world. The EU is already the most open market in the world for agricultural exports from the developing world. Through its Everything But Arms system the EU provides tariff and quota free access to all agricultural imports from the 50 Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The EU absorbs more agricultural imports from the LDCs than the rest of the developed world combined. The EU takes 70% of agricultural exports from the LDCs – the US takes just 17%. Almost all agricultural imports from the 80 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries enter the EU duty free or at reduced rates of duty.
We are offering to add to that through deep tariff cuts and a reduction and adaptation of our use of sensitive products to protect some EU farm sectors – and in agreeing to do this we can force others in the developed world to do the same. The EU has consistently called on the US, Canada and Japan to provide an equivalent to the quota and tariff free access provided by the EU’s Everything But Arms system.
Moreover, we are committed to ensuring that the Doha Round produces new market access in trade in industrial goods – where developing countries do 75% of their trade.
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Saturday, 29 October 2005
Economic Partnership Agreements: EU and West Africa agree next phase of negotiations
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson met with West African Ministers on the 27th October in Brussels to agree on the next phase of the Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations between the two regions. Ministers agreed to start negotiations in 2006 and endorsed a calendar setting out a precise timetable for the talks. This will mean starting work on drafting the text and legal provisions of the EPA and issues connected with market access, including the effect of an EPA on productive sectors in West Africa.
On October 27th 2005, Commissioner Mandelson held bilateral talks with a West African delegation led by the president of the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Mr Soumaïla Cissé.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said: “Today’s agreement marks a turning point in negotiations. We are ready to begin discussing the trade rules that will support the sustained growth and real development that West Africa needs. This will do much more than simply guarantee preferential access to the EU market, it will help establish a secure framework for investment, jobs and a sound business environment. This is part of a comprehensive approach to regional relations where the EU is highly sensitive to the unique challenges of development in West Africa. We are also deeply committed to helping the region manage the economic change this involves.”

What are EPAs?
Economic Partnership Agreements are the trade and development agreements that the European Union is currently negotiating with the 6 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions. They will replace the trade chapters of the 2000 Cotonou Agreement between the EU and the ACP countries. The exception of these chapters from WTO law will expire in 2008, requiring both parties to have put in place a WTO-compatible alternative. The European Union has committed to ensuring that the EPAs will guarantee both the development focus and the preferential trading terms currently enjoyed by ACP countries, while complying with WTO obligations. The EU is conducting parallel negotiations with six ACP regions.
At the beginning of his tenure, EU Trade Commissioner Mandelson undertook a full review of the EPA process, putting in place a new benchmarking system and expert oversight to ensure that the EPAs are genuine development tools.

The next phase of EU – West Africa negotiations
West Africa was the first region, along with Central Africa, to start EPA negotiations in October 2003. The Executive Secretariat of ECOWAS, in collaboration with the WAEMU Commission, is conducting the negotiations on behalf of its Member States.

Since then there has been extensive discussions on technical issues and the process of integration already underway in West Africa. This has included discussions on customs issues, a free trade area, EU import standards and the trade in services.
This ministerial meeting agreed a calendar to begin the next phase of negotiations. This will mean starting work in 2006 on drafting the text and legal provisions of the EPA and discussing issues connected with market access, including the effect of an EPA on productive sectors in West Africa.

Investing in development in West Africa
Although development assistance will not be part of the EPA itself, parallel to the EPA process the Commission will continue to invest heavily through the European Development Fund in development in West Africa, including in supporting regional integration and related activities. The EU and other donors are committed to providing the financial assistance related to the EPA process.
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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.