Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Monday, 23 July 2018

International trade experts will discuss a ground-breaking Aid for Trade initiative aimed at boosting economic growth and reducing poverty in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The Global Network meeting in Mauritius will strengthen the implementation of the innovative Hubs and Spokes II Programme, which was launched in 2012. The programme has already been  recognised for its effectiveness in enhancing the trade capacity of ACP states. The project has been sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat, the European Union (EU), the Organisation Internationale de la Fracophonie (OIF) and the ACP Group Secretariat, provides support and technical assistance through the deployment of experienced Regional Trade Advisors (Hubs) and National Trade Advisors (Spokes) to organisations and government ministries.

The 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom) hopes to access  US$3 billion being offered that China is offering the region to help restructure its debt. Currently, the classification of many countries as Middle Income makes it increasingly difficult for Caricom states to access and pay back cash on concessionary terms. While the criterion is based on GDP per capita income, Prime Minister of the Bahamas Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie said that CARICOM is pushing to eliminate this practice, as it does not adequately reflect the disparities and differences in development with the various islands.

At the 35th meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council of Ministers in Guyana with delegates considering the revised implementation plan of the Five-Year Strategic Plan 2015-19 as part of the reform process of the 15-member regional integration movement. CARICOM Secretary General Irwin La Rocque told the meeting that the approval of the Caribbean governments of the Strategic Plan last July "marked a significant moment" in the reform process of the Community.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) coomit  $57 million worth of concessional loans, the second loans as part of a seven loan cycles commiting $350 million over seven years. This second cycle will target Argentina, Cuba, Iran, Mauritania, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines. In Cuba, $15 million will go towards a 10 MW solar energy project that will provide more than 5,300 people with stable energy, and demonstrate the technology in the country.

There is a strong desire in emerging economies to create growth and lessen inequality. In-country trading of ethical and sustainable products will help achieve these goals. five years ago, Fairtrade labelling initiative was set up in South Africa, the first in the developing world. Since then, Fairtrade products such as wine and rooibos tea were made available to local consumers as well as grown for export. While it was intiitally a ‘slow burn’, the number of new Fairtrade supply chains is increasing and retail sales of Fairtrade products have grown from R18m (£1m) in 2010 to R287m (£16.6) last year. Arianna Baldo, executive director of Fairtrade Label South Africa has no doubt about the importance of Fairtrade sales ‘in country’.