Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

December 2017
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EDITO
Thursday, 14 December 2017

An EU-funded index measuring biodiversity in food production is expected to be launched next year, giving investors a benchmark for assessing how companies and governments are making food systems more resilient to climate change. Investing in food species such as drought-tolerant Ethiopian durum wheat or the frost-resistant Andean grain canahua can make food supply chains more resistant to climate shocks, according to research published on Tuesday by Bioversity International.

Friday, 27 October 2017

One year after enacting the EU-South African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), officials from the EU and South Africa gathered in Johannesburg to review its progress and consider next steps. The EU-SADC EPA entered into force in October 2016, and is designed to be an asymmetrical, development-oriented agreement. The accord has been signed by six of the 15 SADC members, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland. The EPA grants all of those countries, with the exception of South Africa, duty-free, quota-free access to the European market, while improving market access for Johannesburg. The 28-nation EU ranks as the largest trading partner for these countries, with European Commission statistics placing imports at over €30 billion in minerals, metals, and other products in 2015.

The EU is set to import a record volume of bananas this year as consumption continues to rise across the continent. The 28 countries of the EU imported some 6.1 million tonnes of bananas in 2016, up from 5.9mt in 2015 and 5.4mt in 2014. That represents an average four per cent growth rate since 2012, and a 21 per cent increase since 2006. That trend is set to continue with five per cent growth in imports recorded for the first quarter of 2017 versus the same period the year before, according to figures presented at the International Banana Congress by Carolina Dawson of French research centre Cirad.

Africa and Europe have long-standing relations, based in particular on a series of agreements between the European Union (EU) and the group of 79 ACP countries (Sub-Saharan Africa, Caribbean, Pacific). The Cotonou Agreement, signed in 2000 for 20 years, kept the structure of its predecessors, from a time when Europe was negotiating with its former African colonies. It rests on three pillars: development cooperation, trade relations and political dialogue. It is urgent to realise that the context of cooperation has changed radically and that our partnership with Africa is out of date. Even more importantly, we need to wake up to what Africans expect from us.

The Guyana-Based Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) has introduced four new online platforms to promote trade and develop the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (MEUC). Supported by European Union (EU), CARICOM launched the Online Business Registries of the regional bloc; a Labor Market Information System; and the CARREX platform with a public online portal. CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRoque, explained in the presentation that the Online Business Registers provide partners with the search and reservation of names for the registration of entities, payment and e-signature.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Carmelo Abela announced the opening of a Maltese high commission or embassy in Sub-Saharan Africa soon - Malta’s first mission in this African region which will open “a trade gateway to this part of Africa”. The Minister said there are three countries under consideration and the final decision will be announced next month. During a press conference marking the first 100 days of this legislature and Minister Abela taking up his new brief, the Minister explained that trade promotion was an obvious addition to the Foreign Affairs brief after internationally-respected Finch Ratings upgraded Malta to ‘A+’, “meaning Malta has the right environment to do business”. The hard-working and dedicated staff at Maltese embassies and high commissions abroad, including non-resident ambassadors, are building on their solid diplomatic relationships to increase business interactions, the minister said.

A total of 25 banks and 66 bidders took part in this year’s cocoa purchases loan arrangement with Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Joseph Boahen Aidoo has said. COCOBOD realised $1.3 billion from the syndicated loan facility to buy cocoa beans for the 2017/2018 crop season at an interest of 0.65 percent. The signing ceremony, which took place in Paris, France on Wednesday 20 September, marked the 25th anniversary of Ghana’s engagement in soft commodity financing on the international market. Mr Aidoo, who addressed the media in Accra Wednesday via a telephone interview from Paris shortly after signing of the deal, described it as one of the best interest rates.

The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB), Mr Michael Okyere Baafi, says the board has positioned itself to learn about best practices from other international investment promotion agencies in the world. He explained that in fulfilment of its mandate, the GFZB needed to be abreast of global investment trends and the flow of capital around investment destinations and develop the right partnerships to attract the needed strategic investments. Mr Baafi was speaking to the Graphic Business after a delegation of the GFZB met with officials of CzechInvest, the investment promotion agency of the Czech Republic, om Monday 25 September to share insights into how to attract foreign direct investments around the world.

Botswana president Ian Khama landed in Malta on 1 October for a state visit, during which, Malta and Botswana signed a double taxation avoidance agreement. He was welcomed by Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela. During his visit, Khama will be holding talks with President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Speaker Anglu Farrugia, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Monday, 23 October 2017

The French group Somdiaa announced at the end of September that it was committed, as part of its Sustainable Development Policy, to implementing ‘green harvesting’ in some of its subsidiaries (Cameroon, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire), in particular in the sugar sector. ‘Green harvesting,’ says Somdiaa, ‘has many advantages, including reducing the use of chemical fertilisers thanks to biomass (residual straw) from the harvest.’ The French agro-industrial group hopes that this cultivation technique will also lead to a reduction in the use of herbicides, in soil erosion and CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of the sugar cane.