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Thursday, 26 November 2015

The critical issue of bilateral trade between Europe and African countries has been high on the agendas of members of the Irish and UK AWEPA Sections this month. As part of his ongoing lobbying efforts to ensure EU trade policies do not harm African markets in sensitive industries, AWEPA Governing Council member Hon. Denis Naughten issued a press statement urging the Irish and European Parliaments to ensure flexibility within the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements.

The highest amount of funding ever allocated to refugees and development programs is an important outcome of the European Parliament's approval of the European Union's 2016 budget, which ONE and Oxfam see as a good move. Of the agreed €155 billion for the overall budget, €9.16 billion will be spent on interventions in the Middle East, as well as humanitarian aid, in order to tackle the refugee crisis. Additional funds have also been allocated to the Commission's development programs.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a $25 million loan to Trinidad and Tobago to help the Caribbean nation improve its trade facilitation processes, part of an effort to boost and diversify the economy. The loan will help strengthen the country’s Single Electronic Window for Trade and Business Facilitation Project (TTBizLink), a secure business portal created in 2009 that simplifies foreign trade and business processes by providing around-the-clock access to relevant government services.

A report published on Tuesday (24 November) by CONCORD, the European NGO confederation for relief and development, documents an emerging trend amongst member states to divert aid budgets from sustainable development to domestic costs associated with hosting refugees and asylum seekers. Some of the expenditure items EU countries report as aid do not translate into a real transfer of resources to developing countries or, ultimately, to people who are poor and marginalised, the report has found. This is not the first time that NGOs report that EU monies are increasingly being spent on tackling the refugee crisis and border security, rather than fighting poverty and inequality.

Legendary long distance athlete, Haile Gebresilassie, whose business portfolio is fast expanding, has now ventured into the apiculture sector with his latest honey production already earning vast interests from European nations. Having delivered his first product in the local market labeled Haile Mar (Haile Honey), the former Atlanta and Sydney Olympics Gold Medalist is warming up for major exports to European countries including Germany, the Netherlands. Haile told The Reporter that he is producing the honey from his 200 hectares of coffee farm in Sheka area of southern Ethiopia which he describes as one of the "best and high quality" origins of honey in the country.