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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Germany’s planned ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa has been greeted with both optimism and scepticism, with its supporters hailing it as a cure for Africa’s age old development problems and its critics questioning Germany’s true intentions. The original Marshall Plan was initiated by the Unite States and was meant to jumpstart European economies following the end of World War Two at a cost of $100 billion. The plan, implemented within four years, chaperoned the fastest period of economic growth in European history that saw industrial production jump to 35%. Germany now wants to transfer a similar plan to Africa, with a view to creating a conducive environment and opportunities for the African youth in particular, by making them stay and find meaningful employment at home rather than looking for work in Europe.

Some significant challenges remain, but Caribbean exporters have made progress with their exports to Europe. This assessment came from head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Daniela Tramacere as she announced that “discussions with CARIFORUM and Caribbean Export are well advanced for a new regional private sector development programme in the amount of EUR 24 million”. Tramacere also said the EU was “convinced that the [economic partnership agreement] can benefit Caribbean countries particularly at this time of stark economic challenges”.

One of the main building blocks of EU external relations, the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), is set to expire in 2020. Due to EU institutional evolution and changes in the global balance of powers, a renewal 'as is' of the agreement is not an option. There is a need to streamline ACP-EU relations, with new EU strategies in the regions concerned, and to adapt to the ACP countries' new ambitions. The issue of financing is also on the table. Stakeholders have started discussions, focusing on the overlaps with other frameworks and the assets that should be kept or reformed.

The European Union is donating EUR 1 million to help developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) participate effectively in global trade. WTO Deputy Director-General Yonov Frederick Agah, EU Ambassador Marc Vanheukelen, and Denis Redonnet, director from the European Commission, attended a signing ceremony at the WTO on 13 December to mark the EU’s contribution to the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund (DDAGTF). The donation will finance trade-related technical assistance and capacity building activities for officials in Geneva and elsewhere to help them better understand and implement WTO agreements and to enhance their negotiating skills. Since the creation of the Fund in 2001, more than 2,400 training and capacity building activities have been organized.

The European Commission and EU Member States joined forces today as they agreed to redouble their efforts to tackle non-tariff measures and red tape that hamper EU exports. Today’s move represents the first concrete action taken under the Enhanced Partnership for Implementation – a joint strategy bringing together the Commission, business, and national governments to help European exporters get the most from EU trade deals. In 2014 EU action to remove trade barriers in third countries already generated additional exports of €2.4 billion, supporting about 30,000 jobs and equivalent to the benefits of a medium-sized free trade agreement. But a joint report published today by the European Commission and the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC) reveals there are still problems.

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