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Monday, 23 April 2012

Latest ACP-EU updates

Some of the most commented headlines from around the web last week focused on ACP-EU issues, notably on Africa. All seem to succumb Africa’s attractiveness:  Ritesh Kumar Singh and Sudhakar Kasture, experts in international trade,  say  that the economic slowdown is leading the EU and the US to resort to non-tariff barriers, with the aim of restricting imports into their territories and protect local employment. As emerging economies such as India and China  continue to see growth in their manufacturing sectors, “resource-rich Africa” appears to be catching the attention of global players as prospective strategic partner. “Gradually, Africa has stopped being considered as a dark continent and everybody wants a pie of the African market”, they state.
One may link these statements to the latest declarations of Benjamin W. Mkapa, the former president of Tanzania and Chairperson of the South Centre, who (again) expressed doubts over whether or not EPA negotiations were driven by European interests.  This week, he goes deeper and presents the three possible scenarios for EU-EAC negotiations and the consequences thereof.  The elimination of tariffs on 80 per cent of trade, restrictions on the use of export taxes and quantitative restrictions, as well as the standstill clause will result in nothing less than Africa becoming a perpetual supplier of raw materials.
Recent reports on the EU-Pacific relations seem more optimistic. As Pacific Islands are an alarming case of the adverse effects of climate change where rising sea levels have an impact upon every aspect of citizens' lives and hamper the economic development, the EU aims to develop a more comprehensive partnership, as this would successfully address issues of global importance, such as climate change, and which would go beyond the “mere” donor-recipient relationship currently in place. In this framework, the EU has decided to reinforce its response to these raising challenges and issue a Communication ''Towards a renewed EU–Pacific development partnership'.
Speaking of the Caribbean region, the minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation of the Netherlands, Ben Knapen, has stressed  the positive aspects of the revised EU trade deals. His opinion appears to be positive, and he states that these will help enhance the self-reliance of the developing countries concerned. He notes that the revised Cotonou Agreement is more committed to combatting child labour, piracy, human trafficking and organised crime. Additionally, donor funding from Caricom, Australia, the Common Fund for Commodities and the EU will make three CARDI ( Caribbean Agriculture and Research Development Institute)  projects possible in Haiti. These  will work towards boosting the Haitian agricultural sector, seriously weakened following the earthquake two years ago.
Some have however raised criticism over the question of whether should there be two Secretariats for the ACP group of states in the Caribbean region, namely Caricom and CARIFORUM, the latter comprising Caricom and the Dominican Republic . “The dilemma is that there are now two secretariats, namely the Caricom Secretariat, an inefficient underfunded bureaucracy, and a CARIFORUM Secretariat which is really a fictitious institution in which the number two spot is given to a national of the Dominican Republic […] The same person serves as Secretary General of both the Caricom and CARIFORUM secretariats […] should there be one or two secretariats and, if there are two secretariats, should there be one or two secretaries general?”
While Caricom, which represents 15 Caribbean countries, is quite far along in the regional integration process and has the aim of creating an "economic union”, CARIFORUM is a group whose members are signatories to the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement.
The main concerns on this issue are raised by the Dominican Republic, as “[it] has no input in the selection of the secretary general of CARIFORUM […] and has no say in the superintending of the EPA Implementation Unit”.
Notably, one of the headlines of CTA Brussels dealt with the recent report by European Dignity Watch.  According to the organization,  two of the world’s largest abortion providers, have received funding from the EU’s development aid budget for projects related to Sexual and Reproductive Health, including abortions, among other projects.  
Last but not least, some other issues that caught the attention of the development community focused on EU energy aid to developing world, as it may not cover biofuels; the EU support to Ivory Coast following the post-electoral crisis; and the EU’s commitment to supporting the goals set forth by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the EU Sustainable Energy For all Summit.

Source: CTA