Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

July 2017
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EDITO
Wednesday, 26 July 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

Monday, 08 May 2017

The Treaties of Rome provided the historic foundations that enabled the fatal conflicts of war to be overcome by the spirit of peace and solidarity for the common good of all Europeans. Among the most undeniable success of the Treaties of Rome is the European Integration Project with its four freedoms - of goods, capital, services and people. We can together rightly celebrate one of the greatest landmarks of the post World War II era.We are proud to convey the ACP’s appreciation and gratitude for the long history of the cooperation that began in 1963 with the Yaoundé 1 Convention and those 18 African States that included Somalia and Madagascar and shared in an initial allocation from the European Development Fund (EDF).

For too long, neoliberal ideas have dominated issues in development economics, and it is easy to see why. When richer countries put their success down to increased trade openness and capital mobility, it is understandable that developing countries would want a taste too. The most famous argument for this line of thinking is that as countries move goods more easily between each other, it encourages the flow of ideas and innovation. The question of how regional trade can promote development in Nigeria is an important one. Over time, regional trade blocs have cropped up across Africa – a response to the argument that Africa's underdevelopment is due to low intraregional trade.

The Agriculture Export Council (AEC) is working on the preparation of marketing and consumer studies for the African markets and is expected to finish them in May. The AEC also intends to raise exports of the sector to $2.26bn in 2017, up from $2.146bn in 2016, with an expected growth of 5%. Head of the AEC, Abdel Hamid Demerdash, said that the African market is important and promising for the future of Egyptian crops, where there are many potential large markets. He added that the studies are based on exploiting the joint trade agreements between Egypt and the rest of the African countries, which will contribute to entering these markets with the help of intact economic trade plans.

Wednesday, 03 May 2017

The African continent has the potential to feed itself and even have surplus food to export to other parts of the world. But instead, the continent imports $35 billion worth of food and agricultural products every year, and if the current predictions hold, the import bill will rise to $110 billion annually by 2025. So the question is: if the African continent has vast agricultural potential as we have been led to believe, why are we facing an astronomical food import bill? To say nothing of, I'm not the first or last person to ask this question. Indeed, a few days ago, the President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Akinwumi Adesina, made the following remarks while speaking at the Centre for Global Development in Washing DC: "Africa's annual food import bill of $35 billion, estimated to rise to $110 billion by 2025, weakens African economies, decimates its agriculture and exports jobs from the continent. Africa's annual food import bill of $35 billion is just about the same amount it needs to close its power deficit."

The National Agricultural Marketing Council of South Africa, together with tralac, an NGO studying trade law, has released a study on African agricultural trade as it plays out on the world stage. The conclusion of ‘WTO: Agricultural issues for Africa’ by Prof Ron Sandrey and his fellow authors, is that there are few agricultural sectors where Africa would benefit from WTO intervention and that the continent couldn’t do better than its current preferential access to the European Union. For South Africa, which is designated a developed nation under WTO rules (apparently a self-selected designation), the situation is more complex.

Today in each EU nation, most people wear genetically modified (GM) cotton, and farm animals massively feed on imported GM soy. Yet many countries vote against import authorizations of the very same GM crops they depend upon: We import more than 60kg of GM soya for each of the EU’s 500 million citizens each year; on the other hand, most European farmers are banned from growing GM crops. The European Academies of Science have said: “There is compelling evidence that GM crops can contribute to sustainable development goals with benefits to farmers, consumers, the environment and the economy.”A recent Food and Agriculture Organization report confirms that agricultural biotechnologies can help small producers to be more resilient and adapt to climate change. Like safety authorities around the world, the European Food Safety Authority regularly confirms that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are as safe as conventionally bred crops

Tuesday, 02 May 2017

Botswana is due to continue benefiting from cooperation with the European Union (EU) despite uncertainty from the United Kingdom's decision to exit the European common market. In an interview on the sidelines of the Botswana heads of missions conference in Gaborone recently, the Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, Mr Samuel Outlule said the country's trading agreements with the EU were still in effect, and that the legal aspects of British separation ('Brexit') were still to be ascertained."Of course there are a lot of questions that are still to be answered because the relationship evolved for over 40 years, hence there has been a number of laws and regulatory arrangements with regard to trade. So we are still to know if the agreements of separation will not disrupt the existing commercial and economic relations," he said.

A deeper UK engagement with African trade is sensible and beneficial, however, negotiators will need to wake up to complexities of hashing out any deals on the continent. When The Times reported that some Whitehall officials had been using the term ‘Empire 2.0’ to describe post-Brexit UK’s campaign to cosy up to its former colonies, there was a significant backlash among some members of the 52-state Commonwealth. Yet despite the unofficial branding, the official line is one of reciprocal trade deals and closer foreign policy – both of which will be welcome to the UK and its allies.

"We too have a role in determining our response and where feasible, we should make choices that reflect our reassessment of priorities within a changing world," said Ms Theresa May, the British Prime Minister. "...I want us to be a secure, prosperous, tolerant country, a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators that will shape the world ahead."t was a bitter-sweet farewell following the delivery of Ms May's historic letter to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, officially notifying him of the intention to trigger Article 50 and quit the European Union (EU). Perhaps it feels like the end of an episode in one's favourite TV series, as you wait for what happens next.