Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

June 2017
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EDITO
Friday, 23 June 2017

The East African Community is divided on whether to sign a key trade agreement with the European Union. ALON MWESIGWA explains how the EU-EAC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) would affect the region. It is midday on a Sunday and Tom Sajje organises his fishing net in Kitooro on the shores of Lake Victoria, preparing for the evening's journey to fish. "These days, we struggle to get fish; it is no longer as available as it used to be," Sajje said, referring to the dwindling fish stock in the lake.Sajje, who is clearly using archaic methods, says they have not been helped much to improve their fishing methods and their general well-being. People like Sajje have a special mention in the EU-EAC EPA trade deal. It promises "ensuring preservation and priority of particular needs of the artisanal/subsistence fishery."

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

“We believe that to help a friend and provide aid it must be without conditions,” Mr. Lopez said in an interview late Saturday at a meeting of Asia-Pacific trade ministers in Hanoi, Vietnam. “We would appreciate all aid but we would just request that there be no conditions,” he said. “We would simply not want to be questioned and we follow the principle of non-interference and independence in foreign policy.” The Philippines has told the EU it will no longer accept new development grants, which could mean foregoing around 250 million euros ($280 million) in assistance, unless they come with no strings attached. The EU has criticized President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war on drugs, which has led to the deaths of thousands of suspected dealers, and his planned reintroduction of capital punishment.

The East Africa Community (EAC) has asked the European Union not to punish Kenyan agricultural products exported to Europe. A heads of states summit in Dar es Salaam resolved to petition the EU on behalf of Kenya and agreed to dispatch Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, the new EAC chairman to present Kenya's case. President Museveni, the new chairman of EAC, said his first assignment is to harmonise the organisation's position on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that allows countries in the region to export their agricultural products to Europe without attracting tax. Mr Museveni told the 18th Ordinary Summit of EAC Heads of States in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Saturday that the EAC was committed to solving the stalemate surrounding the EPAs once and for all.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Amid an unprecedented global trade slowdown, African policy-makers, negotiators and trade analysts will meet on 25-26 May 2017 in Mauritius to discuss priorities for reviving world trade and strengthening their trading capacity. Since 2014, world trade has declined by more than US$3 trillion with Sub-Saharan Africa’s combined exports falling by about 40 per cent - from US$403 billion to less than US$250 billion. Participants will discuss the most pressing trade and development challenges for Commonwealth African member states, in the light of unfavourable global economic and trade patterns, rising protectionism and growing discontent about globalisation.

The 15-nation Caribbean trade bloc is undertaking a complete review of its import taxes regime into the regional free market including poultry and agriculture products from the United States in the wake of a plethora of requests from governments and the private sector to periodically suspend tariffs to correct shortages of items in various member states. The bloc has hired an international consulting firm to “undertake a rather comprehensive look” at the common external tariff governing the importation of products not manufactured in the region.Part of the reason for this stems for pressure from governments and the private sector for suspensions or waivers of duties to the council of trade ministers (COTED) for particular products to make up for shortfalls of materials or finished products in particular countries.

Monday, 22 May 2017

The European Union has invited the government of Tanzania for dialogue over the Economic Partnership Agreement impasse that has threatened to derail the trade pact between the bloc and the East African Community member countries. The head of the EU delegation to Tanzania and the East African Community, Roeland van de Geer, said they were awaiting Dar es Salaam's position on the matter."What is important is that we have dialogue," said Mr Geer during the Europe Day celebrations in the Tanzanian political capital Dodoma last week. "Tanzania has its own convictions, the EU have theirs. Tanzania is a sovereign country and should take its own decisions," he said, underscoring the importance of the dialogue.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

A new strategic partnership between the EU and Africa was launched on 4 May with agriculture one of the main pillars of the new strategy. The agri-food sector is seen as a key area through which the EU can support rural and urban development in Africa.According to a joint paper from the European Commission and the EU's High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini, the EU will facilitate investments from the private sector in the African agri-food sector, building on initiatives such as the existing Agriculture Financing Instrument (AgriFI), in order to help boost jobs and address food security.

Monday, 15 May 2017

The European Commission and the EU’s foreign policy chief on May 4 presented a revitalised framework for joint action, to build a stronger strategic partnership between Europe and Africa for more prosperity and stability in the two continents. The 27-country bloc is Africa’s closest neighbour and main partner. The Communication presents innovative proposals in a number of key areas – such as peace and security, migration, job creation or energy, the Commission said, noting that this comes ahead of the Africa-EU Summit in November this year, which will put a specific focus on youth. Closer EU-Africa cooperation would help tackle global challenges such as terrorism and transnational crime, climate change, epidemics, pressure on natural resources, humanitarian crises, irregular migration.

The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are determined to "undertake the reforms needed to transform the ACP Group into an effective global player, fit for the 21st century, and responsive to the emerging priorities" of member states. This emerged from the two-day gathering of the ACP Council of Ministers who concluded the 105th session on May 4 with key decisions that will influence how the bloc of 79 countries will carve out a more effective role in the international arena. According to the President of the Council, Ethiopia's Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Dr Abraham Tekeste, "The current occupancy of the Presidency of the UN General Assembly by Fiji, and the current membership of Senegal and Ethiopia in the UN Security Council, serve to underscore the positive contributions by ACP countries at the global levels."

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of ministers began a meeting here yesterday with a call on the 79-member grouping to meet their financial obligations so as to allow their group to better survive a changing global environment.The Guyanese ACP Secretary General Dr Patrick I Gomes, addressing the 105th Council Session, said that a prerequisite to the continued well-being of the ACP Group in general, and the Secretariat in particular is to better serve all our stakeholders. “I would therefore like to appeal to member states to continue your efforts towards the timely payment of statutory obligations in order to improve our self-reliance and the smooth functioning of the secretariat