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Wednesday, 23 January 2019
Response of the ACP Banana Exporting Countries to the Award of the Arbitrator Issued in Geneva on 1 August, 2005

Once again the ACP banana exporting countries have seen their trade in another agricultural lifeline product endangered by a ruling in a WTO process. This underscores the ACP ongoing concern about the marginalization of vulnerable economies from global trade.
The ACP Banana Exporting Countries were granted only limited participation in the arbitration process. Our conviction is that the mandate of the Arbitrator, as set out in the Annex to the Doha Waiver, does not permit the Arbitrator to extend to a judgement on the preferential tariff treatment for ACP banana exports to the European Communities. Regrettably, although this limitation was recognised, a negative opinion on the preferential tariff was rendered, thus undermining the very fabric of the ACP-EU banana trade. It is instructive that the Award made no reference to the submissions of the ACP countries although they would be the ones most affected by the award. It does not appear that there was any appreciation of the fact that for the ACP, the European Communities provide the sole market for bananas, while the MFN producers dominate the global market.
Already the banana industries and small farmers in the ACP countries have sounded the warning about the dire consequences of this Award. The potential impact on national economies cannot be underestimated, at a time when Governments are already challenged in their efforts to achieve their Millennium Development Goals. What is clear is that should the preferential tariff be set at a low level, the MFN producers will succeed in completely excluding the ACP producers from their sole export market. Of particular concern is the likely impact on rural areas, where employment opportunities are scarce, and where social safety nets are inadequate and in some cases, non-existent.
The ACP countries expect that the next phase of negotiations and a possible second arbitration will result in a solution which will preserve ACP market access. To this end, we are committed to consultations with the European Commission, as well as with the Interested Parties (the MFN producers) on all matters of concern in the Arbitrator’s Award.
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Commission to invest € 1 billion into Research on Information and Communication Technologies
The Commission is about to launch 276 new research projects in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) with €1 billion in EU funding. This is the result of the fourth Information Society Technology Call for Proposals under the EU’s Sixth Research Framework Programme. This EU contribution is one of the largest totals awarded as the result of a single Call for Proposals in the history of EU research.
“Investment into research in Information and Communication Technologies is our best-bet contribution to growth and jobs”, said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “However, Europe continues to under-invest considerably into ICT research for lack of sufficient resources both at EU level and at national level. Today, half the ICT research projects proposed for EU funding have had to be turned down, despite meeting all the requisite quality criteria. If Europe wants to be part of the game of global competition for better ICT services, we need to step up our resources considerably.”
Over 1,300 proposals were submitted in response to the 4th Information Society Technology Call for Proposals under the EU’s Sixth Research Framework Programme. 462 proposals met the quality criteria, of which 276 were retained. The selected projects aim in particular to achieve industrial and societal breakthroughs in fields that are of strategic importance to Europe, and where it has recognised strengths. They include micro- and nano-electronics, mobile communications and broadband technology for accessing the internet. In broadband, research funding has been an incentive for European equipment manufacturers to make, over the past years, internet access in Europe faster and cheaper, thanks to optical fibre network technology (see IP/05/722) and low-cost Advanced Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) access modems.
In the coming five years, the Commission will also support new fields with high potential for industrial and commercial breakthroughs, such as
- cognitive systems that can sense and interpret real-world events and help humans deal with them;
- improvements in the security and dependability of information and communication technology systems;
- new applications that will affect our lives in health, transport, content creation, and in government administrations and services.
The new Call for Proposals allocates €162 million of research spending on ICT to small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for 20% of all participating organisations, and €70 million to specific projects partnering research organisations from the new Member States and from the EU 15 in areas like eGovernment, eHealth, eLearning or eBusiness.
The administrative decision empowering the Commission to begin negotiations with project consortia was signed last week. The first contracts will be signed with research consortia in the autumn.
Wednesday, 03 August 2005
World Trade Organisation arbitrators while acknowledging the EU’s use of the price gap methodology to arrive at a tariff level have criticised some aspects of its application in this case. Arbitrators were therefore not in a position to endorse the tariff level of 230 EUR/tonne proposed by the Commission. The Commission will study carefully the arbitrators’ report and examine available options for taking this process forward. The intention remains to have a tariff only system in place on 1 January 2006, as agreed at the WTO Doha Ministerial held in 2001. The Commission will shortly initiate consultations with the countries concerned and expects their constructive engagement in these consultations.
Mariann Fischer Boel, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said “The EU has calculated the MFN import duty for bananas in a neutral and transparent manner and has engaged in consultations with the Latin American countries concerned and in this arbitration in a constructive spirit. It has always been our intention that the form of the EU banana import regime would change but that the level of protection would not increase. We are currently evaluating the options available for putting into place the new import regime for bananas as from 1 January 2006”.
Peter Mandelson, the EU’s Trade Commissioner, said “The tariff proposed by the EU was designed to be a neutral and fair conversion that would maintain current market access for all banana suppliers to the EC. We remain committed to follow the procedures established in the Cotonou Waiver agreed in Doha in 2001 as the best means to facilitate a solution to the longstanding “banana saga”. We will start consultations with interested parties without delay. I hope that everyone will cooperate in finding a mutually acceptable solution within the strict deadline set by the WTO”.
In order to put an end to the long-standing bananas 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.
In accordance with these understandings the EU proposed in January 2005 an import duty of 230 €/tonne to replace the existing commitments in the EC Schedule in the form of a bound duty of 680 €/tonne with a quota of 2,200,000 tonnes subject to an in-quota rate of 75 €/tonne. The EU calculated its proposed tariff of 230 €/tonne in order to maintain total market access for suppliers under the Most Favoured Nations (MFN) clause. It also intends to maintain an equivalent level of preference for ACP bananas.
The current arbitration was established after a request of Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama and Venezuela.
The arbitration award issued today finds that the proposed tariff would not result in at least maintaining total market access for MFN banana suppliers.
More specifically, the arbitrators read their mandate to include looking at all aspects of the import regime, including the ACP preference, but acknowledged that the rebinding cannot give any guarantees on a particular level of future trade.

As regards the price gap methodology used by the EU, the arbitrators found it appropriate in principle, but found that, as applied in this case, it did not take into account the ACP preference. They also shared the concerns expressed by the EU during the arbitration on the technical uncertainties associated with the use of econometric models.
As regards the reference period and the price data used for the calculation, the arbitrators pointed out that it is important to use the most recent representative reference period, and criticized the data used by the EU for internal prices, namely FAO data. The arbitrators acknowledged the difficulties of finding fully reliable data, but offered no further guidance in this respect.
Commission will now initiate consultations with the Interested Parties within the next 10 days. Should those consultations fail to lead to an agreement, a second arbitration could be requested. This arbitration should be completed within thirty days from the date the second arbitration was requested.
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Tuesday, 02 August 2005
European Commission mobilizes extra €58 M to the Global Fund to accelerate the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries
The European Commission has today paid €58 million to the Global Fund to fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in developing countries, bringing its total contribution to the fund since 2002 to €432.5 million. The contribution enables the Global Fund to boost prevention, treatment and care in order to accelerate the urgently needed response to these three diseases.

Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, said: “HIV/AIDS Is a major obstacle to development, notably in sub-Saharan Africa. The international community must help Governments of developing countries to meet this challenge. The European Commission is committed to playing its part and I am thus pleased to announce this additional contribution of 58 million euros for the Global Fund. .”

An estimated 6 million people die every year from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and the figures are increasing. In response to this situation, the Global Fund was established in 2002. It is a financing mechanism to attract, manage and disburse additional resources to the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries where these so-called ‘poverty diseases’ are most prevalent.

With the full support of the Member States and the European Parliament, the Commission has allocated in total more than € 1.1 billion to fight the three poverty-related diseases (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria) from 2003 – 2006. This represents an almost four-fold increase compared to the allocations in the period 1996 – 2002 to the fight against the three diseases. The Commission is the second largest contributor to the Global Fund.

The Global Fund has so far committed US$ 3.5 billion to over 300 programs in 127 countries. Around 60 percent of this funding has gone to Africa, and 55 percent to fighting HIV/AIDS. Around half of the funding is being spent on medicines, mosquito nets to prevent malaria and other products, while the other half is for strengthening health services. The programs are on track to meet combined targets over five years of 1.6 million people on AIDS treatment and 3.5 million people treated for TB.
Results at a Glance from Dec 2004 to May 2005
- HIV: People on ARV treatment 130,000 to 220,000;
- TB: People treated under DOTS 385,000 to 600,000 and
- Malaria: Insecticide-treated nets distributed 1,350,000 to 3,100,000


See useful website from DG Research of the European Commission. The global emergency caused by HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis requires new approaches to confront these three major poverty-related diseases. In response to this emergency, the European Commission provides a broad comprehensive approach in a wide range of policy areas, including trade, development and research. For research, the overall strategy is to develop new drugs, vaccines and other effective interventions through two mechanisms:

Support of research projects of promising new candidates through pre-clinical and early human testing and;
Establishment of a programme to support phases II and III clinical trials in Africa. The Sixth Framework Programme - FP6 (2002-2006) allocates a total of € 400 million to HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis of which 200 Million for EDCTP (European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership).
Monday, 01 August 2005
Deputy Director General Athanassios Theodorakis in the 3rd Issue of the E-Courier gives some spotlights on the European new development policy and why the choice for the budget support.
There are only a few months left until the United Nations meets to discuss at high level the Millennium Development Goals passed in the Monterrey Consensus agreement. The Monterrey Consensus agreement remains a key accomplishment of the international community. For the first time, it created a global partnership for development, an essential condition to eradicate poverty. But we know that despite significant progress since the implementation of the partnership the problems facing developing countries are serious. This situation is not acceptable and radical change is necessary. If a global partnership is to succeed, then developing countries must take control of their future. They must adopt and implement ambitious national strategies, set feasible objectives, put an end to corruption and the waste of natural resources. We will never be able to do for our partners what they can do for themselves. However, this said, the international community cannot pull away from its responsibility: it must accompany this process and allocate sufficient resources for development. The EU has granted a significant increase in its development aid which will represent, on an annual basis, an additional 20 million euros until 2010. A calendar and precise goals have been set: 0.56 % for 2010; and 0.7 % for 2015. Other policies (commerce, agriculture, environment, research ...) can also provide significant contributions to development. This is why the European Union has made a clear-cut commitment for the promotion of coherence within its internal and external policies and is pleased that the European Council has endorsed this dynamic. Another challenge, beyond volume issues, is the improvement of the quality and efficiency of the aid. In this respect, budgetary support, symbolizes the partners taking charge of their own development and allows them to pay recurrent costs such as teachers and nurses’wages, is without doubt the most efficient and best adapted tool in countries where it is feasible.
Finally, the EU is to engage in a policy focused on sub-Saharan Africa where there is considerable under-development and unbearable misery. This is why the European Union has considered it fundamental to devote at least 50% of its public aid to the Continent. Efforts will focus on three plans: The political
plan: to support the African Union, reinforce governance, support the peer review system, contribute to peace, security and the resolution of conflicts. The economic plan: by financing large trans-African communication networks and focusing on commerce and by reinforcing regional integration. The social
plan: by improving access to basic services, adequate and predictable financing for contagious diseases and continuous sustainable environmental support. Our approach to development has moved on. Development is more than just a large scale charity operation. Public demonstrations of sensitivity are excellent means to remind us of our constant duty of solidarity, our ambition to share our experience and know-how respecting the priorities of our partners and most of all the respect of human dignity.
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