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Tuesday, 12 June 2012

ACP-EU updates: key upcoming meetings, trade issues and fisheries

While the upcoming meetings in Los Cabos and Rio have been catching the attention of the development community, several ACP- EU level events, as well as fisheries opportunities encouraged discussion last week.
In the light of G-20 Group meeting, which will take place in Los Cabos, Secretary-General Ban Ki moon has stressed the need to find ways to stimulate the global economy, while ensuring inclusive green growth that drives sustainable development.  "We stand at a crossroads. Our common future is at stake", he said. He also took the opportunity to draw attention to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), as it will bring together the world community, including up to 130 heads-of-state and government to Brazil, who are expected to define steps to be taken toward a more equitable and more respectful position on world resources.
Of particular note regarding the fisheries sector, the European Commission has spelled out its intentions for fixing fishing opportunities for 2013. Through this annual document the Commission asks for the views of Member States and stakeholders on the setting of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), quotas and fishing effort (days-at-sea) for the following year. The document shows that the Commission's efforts to phase out overfishing are starting to bear fruit. There are now 20 fish stocks in European seas which are known not to be overfished, compared to only 5 stocks in 2009. Reducing TACs in the past years even made it possible to increase some TACs for 2012. This could result in at least €135 million extra income for the fishing industry. Additionaly, the European Commission, on behalf of the EU, and the Republic of Kiribati initialed a new Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement. This new Protocol will cover a period of 3 years and provide fishing opportunities, which include a reference tonnage of 15,000 tons.
Other relevant news has focused in particular on trade issues. For example, Germany has donated EUR 1 million to the WTO Global Trust Fundfor 2012, which is aimed at financing technical assistance programmes and training activities for developing and least developed countries with the aim of enhancing their ability to participate effectively in the WTO negotiations and ensure they fully benefit from the results achieved during these negotiations.
Some headlines also drew attention to the prospective drop in sugar output from Mauritius. According to the Mauritian Chamber of Agriculture, sugar is set to drop by 5.8 percent to 410,000 tonnes this year from 435,309 tonnes in 2011 due to lower rainfall. The Chamber announced in a statement that "growth of the sugar cane plant has been affected by a sharp drop in rainfall at the start of the year in the northern and western parts of the island".
South Africa is once again in the spotlight. According to Roeland van de Geer, head of the EU delegation to South Africa, the policy of favouring its fellow BRICS members India and China for development funding while shunning the West may backfire on South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC). “Attack us - that is fine. It does not matter. But don't say that in this economic period we don't need each other because that undermines the relationship", he states. While the ANC has sent mixed messages to Western countries about how welcome their capital is in Africa's largest economy, a top official said last week that these were decreasing in importance."If you get these remarks without nuance, it spoils a lot. I cannot correct that. The damage is done" Mr. van de Geer stressed.  Speaking of Africa, and according to the South African Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, facing key challenges can make a meaningful difference in terms of growth and development in the continent. An inadequate infrastructure, small and fragmented markets, as well as insufficient diversification of industrial output are part of the homework that Africa must soon address and development actors should support. He recalls that the average growth of the African continent was estimated to be 5.8 percent and that was in contrast with the European Union, which has gone into recession.