September 2015
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Friday, 04 September 2015

The European Commission has adopted today a legal act to create a simpler, more modern and integrated EU customs system to support cross-border trade and provide for more EU-wide cooperation in customs matters. It builds on the Union Customs Code adopted in 2013, which sets out detailed rules for twenty-first century customs processes. EU customs handle 16% of world trade, or over two billion tonnes of goods a year with a value of € 3,400 billion. Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “A modern and cost-effective customs system facilitates international trade and is conducive to growth. It also plays a vital role in defending the safety and security of European citizens and in protecting Member States' interests.”

The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture Belgium-Luxembourg-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (CBL-ACP) shall lead an economic mission to Cuba from August 26 to 30. The Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce is a member shall also be part of the mission. While trade between Luxembourg and Cuba has been very limited over the past 20 year, the recent normalization of US-Cuban relations has lead the way for both economic and political rapprochement globally.  Jeannot Erpelding, director of international affairs at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, expressed that in his opinion there is only very limited interest in doing business with Cuba, due to Cuba's geographical proximity to the US.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Luanda International Fair, Paulo Varela, chairman of the Portugal-Angola Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIPA) expressed contentment at the new Private Investment Law, which was approved this week in the Angolan parliament. Paulo Varela said “Angola needs investment in the productive sector, which requires legislative stability, as well as a stable fiscal framework that is as simple as possible,” and this new Law shall make the process “friendlier” for companies. Previously, Angolan law required a minimum of US$1 million private investment. The new law sets a minimum participation of 35% for Angolan partners and authorization to invest.

Why can the Greek crisis in the EU be good news for EU-Nigeria trade? As the global economic and financial crisis takes its toll on mature economies, such as Greece, there are lessons for emerging countries. Some onlookers suggest that emerging markets such as Nigeria can boost their bargaining power when negotiating with economic giants such as the EU, both in bilateral trade talks and in terms of increasing exports to the bloc. The implications of the Greek crisis and the simalrities of debt-burdened governments deserve attention, especially as the EU is gaining increased market presence in Nigeria, amongst other emerging economies. In sum, emerging economies can gain buying power, but they also rsik to lose selling power: importing good will be cheaper with a fall in the euro, but at the same time, demand from the EU bloc may drop and impact government tax revenues.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Among the Small Island Developing States, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is officially the first to submit its CO2 reduction objectives ahead of the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21). The marshall Islands plan to cut their emissions by 32% by 2025, 45% by 2030, and to aim for zero net emissions by 2050. This should also provide encouragement and inspiration for larger emitters to aim for more ambitious targets. While the country produces less than 0.00001% of the world's emissions, the EU, China and the United States combined, produce half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Together with the  Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Marshall Islands are campaigning for the +1.5°C global warming, as opposed to the current target of +2°C.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The German Cabinet unveiled that the draft budget for BMZ — the government’s development ministry — for 2016 will be raised 13.5 % to €7.42 billion euros ($8 billion). Since 2009, BMZ’s budget stood at €5.81 billion. The new packages includes increased expenditure on displacement (approx. €600million extra),  health systems in Africa(approx. €600million extra) and  climate funding (approx. €250million extra). BMZ has also pledged to allocate a significant amount of increased funding fight global hunger. Following global crises, such as the Ebola outbreak, which claimed more than 10,000 lives in West Africa, donors and practitioners alike have been working on  how to strengthen local infrastructure for a more robust response in future. A similar threat is posed by climate change, which the German government has long recognized as a potentially existential threat. 

The Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States are undergoing a strategic review of “repositioning” the group in the global arena ahead of negotiations on the future EU-ACP relationship before the end of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020. According to ACP Secretary-General Patrick Ignatius Gomes, the current period can be characterized as one of  “deep reflection, (…) [to ensure a] much more mature relationship with Europe that is not at all aid dependent. ... We want to let aid be pushed into the background.” The ACP has already identified five strategic policy domains:  (i) rule of law and good governance; (ii) global justice and human security; (iii) building sustainable, resilient and creative economies; (iv) intra-ACP trade, industrialization and regional integration; and (v) financing for development.

Spain and Curaçao have signed a framework agreement for technical cooperation to strengthen the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The agreement provides that both sides shall share data relevant to combating IUU fishing, including on tools used for control and inspection of fishing activities. There is also a training component to the agreement, whereby fisheries inspectors will receive both theoretical and practical training. Spain is one of the leading countries taking active steps to combat IUU fishing and has been involved in a number of international cooperation activities (e.g. Operation Sparrow).

At the Sub-regional Workshop on Branding and the Use of Geographical Indications (GIs) in the Development of Management Strategies for Origin-Linked Products in Jamaica, Caribbean experts highlighted the importance of  protecting intellectual property(IP), and the links this had for the region's economic development. The European Union (EU) – as a major advocate of the use of GI, such as Cognac, Roquefort cheese, Parma ham - provided financial assistance to the Caribbean Export Development Agency, as well as support through the programmes linked to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and CARIFORUM to develop the use of GI's across the Caribbean. Promising GI's include Grenada Nutmeg and “Toledo cacao”, Trinidad and Tobago Cocoa and Antigua Black Pineapple and Jamaican Jerk.

The 4th meeting of ACP Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture was held at ACP House in Brussels, from 22 to 23 July 2015. The roadmap highlights, inter alia, the points raised in the meeting: (i) adequate financial resources and collaboration with key partner institutions to support CAP fisheries, notably EU, FAO, IFAD, UNIDO and the World Bank; (ii) ambitious goals at COP21 in order to mitigate the negative effects that climate change has on the fisheries sector; (iii)  enhanced coordinated action to fight both Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and piracy; (iv) development of aquaculture and fisheries sector as a means for creating decent jobs, especially for youth and women, as well as the preservation of aquatic biodiversity; (v)  coherence and appropriate policies among regional economic integration organisations and regional fisheries organisations to achieve this aim.