October 2015
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Saturday, 10 October 2015

Rural and agricultural economy and their value chains play a key role for fostering economic growth, job creation and development in ACP countries. Private sector investments are essential for unlocking this potential. In the context of EXPO Milan, the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission is organising a conference on "Agri-business investments in partnership with farmer's organisations in ACP Countries". The aim of the conference is to engage stakeholders and partners to work on a common blue-print for smart agri-business investments in ACP countries in partnership with farmers' organisations.

Thursday, 08 October 2015

The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission Mogherini and the European Commission launched the public consultation on the future of the partnership between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries after 2020, when the EU-ACP Cotonou Agreement expires. The Cotonou Agreement is the most comprehensive partnership agreement that the EU has to govern the relationship between 78 developing countries in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific, and the EU.

The UK Trade and Investment division at the UK Embassy in Havana organized a webinar on “Cuba: Introduction to the Agriculture/Food & Drink Sectors. Business Opportunities." There has been a renewed interest in the Cuban economy and the agrifood sector offers many opportunities. Currently, Cuba imports 80% of its food consumption but new government initiatives aim to boost the sector through import substitution and increased exports. Opening up the sector to foreign direct investment (FDI) has been a clear indication of this. The EU is one of the main trade partners: Spain, France, Holland and Italy are responsible for biggest share of exports to Cuba.

Günter Nooke, Angela Merkel's representative in Africa, has called for a rethink of international approaches towards Africa. While the UN summit on the SDG is widely acclaimed as a success, Mr. Nooke warns that practically implementing the agenda, is still a challenge. In his opinion, developing countries need to start solving their problems themselves, instead of only pointing the finger at the industrialised nations. For example, too little money has been spent on bringing farmers out of subsistence farming,  while promises were made to spend 10% of national budgets on agriculture. This has not materialized. Nooke admits that he has a critical view of the EPAs.

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a quadrupling of his government’s support to the Caribbean. The aid package announced yesterday includes: £300 million (US$454.8 million) for a new UK-Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund to build new ports, roads and bridges to boost trade and growth; £30 million (US$45.4 million) to make health facilities more resistant to natural disaster; and £30 million (US$45.4 million) for new programmes to support economic growth.

The Minister of Fisheries, Victoria de Barros Neto, announced the construction of US$98 million Centre for Professional Fisheries Training (Cefopesca) of Angola. The Centre is expected to be operational within 36 months. The Fisheries Training Centre was established in 1982 as part of cooperation between Angola and Sweden, with the Angolan government approving construction of a new centre following heavy rains in 2007 that destroyed 85 % of the existing Professional Fisheries Training Centre. This project is funded by a credit line opened by the government of Spain to Angola.

The Commission confirmed its zero tolerance policy against illegal fishing worldwide by warning the Comoros Islands that they risk being identified as uncooperative countries in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. At the same time, the Commission is lifting the yellow cards from Ghana and Papua New Guinea, which have significantly reformed their fisheries governance system. The Commission also adopted a Communication on the key achievements of the IUU Regulation in the first five years of its enforcement. Fiji, Belize, Togo and Vanuatu have also  reformed their systems, following a warning by the EU.

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has warned that the Common External Tariff (CET) and the Economic Partnership agreement (EPA) between West Africa and the EU would throw up fresh challenges for Nigeria. MAN warns that the EPA risks complicating the current performance of the manufacturing sector, namely flooding the market with products sold at a price at which local products cannot compete. In MAN’s opinion, the trade agreement will further impoverish the manufacturing sector and non-oil export could be the worst hit as the two sectors suffer from significant problem of lack of competitiveness.

Next week (13 October), the European Parliament will vote on whether to accept the European Commission’s proposal to tighten rules concerning organic farming in the EU. This will also include whether to accept tighter controls on organic food imports from third non-EU countries. Under proposed rules, organic farmers in the EU would be subject to stricter limits on pesticide use in comparison to conventional farming. This has received much criticisim. Indeed, there seems to be parliamentary support for the rejection of stricter limits in organic production, such as synthetic pesticide levels. On imports, experts have suggested that the EU should work to align its standards with those of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

Wednesday, 07 October 2015

The next Brussels Briefing on the subject of “Emerging donors and rising powers in agriculture in ACP countries” will take place on Tuesday 27 October 2015 from 9:00h to 13:00h at the ACP Secretariat (451 Avenue Georges Henri, 1200 Brussels, Room C ). The will discuss the key challenges and new opportunities to enhance South-South and Triangular cooperation. The Briefing will: i) review successes and the lessons learned from research and practice; ii) promote the exchange of information on best practices and drivers of success; iii) feed into the debate various perspectives on policy options.

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