Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

December 2017
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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The OECS Commission has joined the Saint Lucia Government’s Department of Commerce, International Trade, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs in celebration of November as “Business Month” under the theme: Promoting an Entrepreneurial Culture – Innovation and Creativity. In recognition of Business Month, a CARIFORUM – EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Workshop on Regional Business to Business Strategic Networking was held on Nov. 28, at the Finance Administrative Centre in Pointe Seraphine, Castries, where goods and services firms, as well as business support organizations of Saint Lucia and the wider OECS region, were exposed to a series of informative sessions on the export of products and services to the European Market.

European Investment Bank (EIB), has granted the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), a line of credit agreement amounting to €100 million. The agreement took place last week in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, on the sidelines of the African Union-European Union Summit. The facility is aimed at financing trade-related long-term productive investments by private sector entities, or commercially operated public sector entities in Afreximbank member countries that are also signatories to the Cotonou Agreement. The seven-year loan will finance trade-related investments and projects in Africa, with particular emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) engaged in export manufacturing.

The ACP Sugar Group are deeply concerned with the recent news that the EU plans to modify its market access offer to Mercosur to include sensitive products, among them sugar, during the next round of trade talks between 4 and 10 December. This is contrary to the consistent assurances on sugar and other sensitive products given by the European Commission to the ACP Group, most recently by Commissioner Malmström at the Joint ACP-EU Ministerial Trade Committee in October 2017 where she stated that, “When negotiating with other parties, we keep in mind the potential impact on the EU-ACP trade relationship. The EU's defensive interests largely correspond to the ACP Group's identified interests. Sensitive products, including bananas, sugar, rum, beef and rice, are thus given a particular treatment.”

The majority of Irish exports to Africa went to Nigeria in September this year. An EU-Africa summit takes place in the Ivory Coast this week. The crisis at home means Taoiseach Leo Varadkar didn't go, but attendees included French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Boosting trade, security and investment were all on the agenda. Irish trade with Africa is increasing. Businesses here sent €23m in exports to Nigeria during the month, according to figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Nigeria was followed by South Africa, which accounted for €21m of Irish exports in September, and Algeria (€8.9m). Exports include food and drink, software and engineering

Kenyan farmers are set to enjoy a bigger market share after the European Union committed to cut agricultural export subsidies by end of January in line with a World Trade Organisation (WTO) landmark decision passed in Nairobi. Export subsidies refer to an array of credit and guarantee schemes extended to EU traders to make their products cheaper in foreign markets. The incentives include forex loss compensation, freight cost refund and total tax refund on exportable products. They are offered in addition to domestic support which is extended to farmers to lower the production cost.

In order to improve the competitiveness of Ghana’s banana export industry over €7.2 million has been invested into two banana farms by the European Union (EU), My Journal Online has learned. From a continent perspective, Latin American (excluding Mexico) and Caribbean countries accounted for the highest dollar value worth of banana exports with shipments amounting to $7.1 billion or 60.5% of global banana sales.

Thursday, 07 December 2017

European sugar is turning up in odd places. Production from the region’s beet farms is drawing buyers as far away as Haiti, once a major grower of cane in the Caribbean, and Sierra Leone in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s even shown up on the Pacific island of Pitcairn, one of the remotest abodes on Earth. Any demand is good news for producers such as Suedzucker AG, the world’s biggest, and main European rival Nordzucker AG as a supply glut has pushed white-sugar prices down 27 percent this year in London. That followed a European Union decision to end quotas on output and exports.

Cameroon exports an average of 300,000 tons of bananas per year to the European Union (EU), the new EU ambassador and head of delegation announced on Monday.According to Hans-Peter Schadek, who is increasing contacts with the Cameroonian authorities, partnership between the EU and Cameroon must be strengthen in several sectors of activity. On supporting the banana sector, he said, “that this is an important action that has been going on for some time and that has now reached a cruising speed of nearly 300,000 tons of bananas exported each year by Cameroon to the European Union market.”

The Fourth Meeting of the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) took place in Brussels, Belgium, on 17 November 2017. The Meeting was co-chaired by Ms. Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade and by Mr. Sven Mikser, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia and representing the EU Council. The CARIFORUM delegation included Ministers of CARIFORUM States and was led by Senator the Honourable Ms. Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica. EU Member States were also present.

Offering credit to East African banks might not be many people’s idea of traditional development aid. Yet promoting private small and medium enterprise, alongside funding for infrastructure projects that will help develop local businesses, lies at the heart of the new strategy for Africa. Dating back to the Cotonou Agreement, signed in 2000 by the EU and 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific states in Benin, the strategic goals are changing with the EU focusing much more on increasing stability and resilience by supporting economic development programmes to defuse migration pressures. The Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank (EIB) lends €700m per year to banks and financial sector firms across sub-Saharan Africa.

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