Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

October 2017
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EDITO
Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Governments expressed the will at the seventh ministerial meeting of the WTO to finish the Doha Round of trade negotiations as soon as possible. But the Africa Group still deems development to be a more important priority than a speedy conclusion. Despite the decision of the seventh ministerial meeting to aim for a close to the Doha Round by the end of 2010, Hicham Badr, the ambassador of Egypt and coordinator of the Africa group, stressed that the Africa Group will continue to push for a Doha Round based on a developmental mandate. "If we had to choose between a quickly concluded round and a successful round, we would prefer a successful round where the developmental aspect remains at the core of the package". Most of the outstanding points of contention, such as cotton, still depend on the cooperation of Northern countries. African cotton producers are ready to use the WTO dispute settlement mechanism if the talks don’t deliver. The ministerial meeting, which took place last week, marks the growing power of developing countries. "We should not underestimate the power of developing countries", said Badr.
The European Union has for the first time indicated that the failure by the East African Community to sign a new trade agreement will lead to introduction of taxes on Kenyan exports to Europe. Kenya exports about 450,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables to the EU annually and is the number one cut flower exporter to the region. Currently, these products enter the EU duty-free. Horticulture is Kenya’s leading foreign exchange earner, registering an impressive performance of over Sh73 billion from exports during the period ending December 31, 2008. A report by professional services firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, says that Kenya has become a major supplier of horticultural products, experiencing rapid growth in the past decade. However, without the duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market, the sector would collapse, according to the EU-ACP Sustainability Impact Assessment of Economic Partnership Agreements report. “If Kenya is unable to compete, that does not bode well for sustainability as Kenyan producers act as regional sector leaders”, says the report.
Thursday, 10 December 2009

As the European Union gets ready to sign an agreement with Latin America to end a 16-year trade war over bananas, Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries are expressing their frustration at the perceived double standards of the Latin American leaders. The new accord slashes import taxes on bananas from Latin America, from 176€ a tonne to 114€ over the next seven years. But the region's top public servant, Edwin Carrington, told IPS that the decision by the Latin American countries to consistently seek to erode the position of Caribbean banana-producing states on the European market "raises for me a peculiar question".

Tuesday, 08 December 2009
The Extraordinary Council meeting on General Affairs and External Relations held in Geneva on 30 November 2009 congratulated Commissioner Catherine Ashton on her nomination as the first High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to be appointed under the Lisbon Treaty. The Council took note of information provided by the Commission and the comments made by delegations on preparations for the 7th ministerial conference of the WTO. It also stressed the crucial role of the WTO in the current economic and financial crisis, and its full endorsement of the WTO's efforts to provide an effective monitoring process to counter protectionism. The EU intends to play a very active role during the conference, to advance on the themes of the two working sessions, without losing sight of the effects of the current economic downturn on least developed countries.

Official development aid must continue to grow and not suffer from the current economic and financial crisis, warned ACP-EU Co-President Louis Michel at the inaugural session of the 18th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly on Monday in Luanda. "Additional" funds should be released to help developing countries combat the food crisis and climate change, argued Louis Michel. "This money ought not to be deducted from current development aid", said Mr Michel, noting that some states are cutting their development aid budgets in response to the crisis, and adding that "nothing justifies such a reduction in official development aid - quite the contrary". Mr Michel advocated seeking new sources of development policy funding, such as a tax on air fares", and backed the idea, tabled by certain Member States, of a "tax on financial transactions". He condemned the coup d'Etat in Niger, observing that "the situation in Niger does not allow us to recognise constitutional bodies deriving from non-constitutional elections", a law that makes homosexuality a crime in Uganda, and difficulties in overcoming the crisis in Madagascar, despite African Union mediation efforts.

Thursday, 03 December 2009

The European Commission has adopted its annual proposal on next year’s guide prices for fresh and frozen fisheries products as well as the EU producer price for tuna for processing. The Commission proposes to decrease guide prices for white fish and crustacean species, by between –1% and –6%. The current economic crisis is strongly affecting consumer demand for fisheries products in the EU. The decrease in demand has resulted in dramatic drops in first-sale prices in the first half of 2009, in particular for whitefish and crustacean species. On the other hand, the recent price evolution for pelagic species and frozen products has been less negative. For pelagic species there are increases for sardines and albacore (between 1% and 3%) but decreases for herring, mackerel, Spanish mackerel and anchovies (between –1% and –4%).

It is probable that at some time in the next two weeks, Europe will announce that a final deal on bananas has been achieved. In so doing, it will bring to a close the trade war that it has been fighting with Latin producers and the United States since 1993. If documents now circulating in Brussels represent the outcome, the final solution will not be much to the Caribbean's liking. On agreeing a deal, Europe will reduce its banana tariff from €176 to €148/t. Then, over a period of seven years, the tariff will fall to €114/t for all non-preferential imports of bananas into Europe. In exchange, Latin American producers will agree to drop their complaints against the EU at the World Trade Organisation. As with most matters of this kind, the final outcome is not yet guaranteed. There are still sensitive exchanges under way on a small number of issues requiring resolution.

The European Union is giving a total of 653 million Euros to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) member countries to finance projects that will help them to develop capacity in trade with other countries.The funds are to benefit companies investing in warehouse receipt systems, road construction, agriculture improvement projects and government departments among other things. It is aimed at developing the least developed countries' capacity to trade. It includes support to building new infrastructure, improving ports or customs facilities and assistance in helping factories meet European health and safety standards for imports, according to the European Union Operations Officer on Trade and Regional Integration in Uganda Alex Nakajjo.
Wednesday, 02 December 2009
If products are not tracked from their place of origin to their point of sale, there is no way of locating when and how product problems occur. Tracking products throughout their journey to their final destination is essential if we are to ensure worldwide supply and demand chains that deliver excellent-quality products. The three-year BRIDGE ('Building radio frequency identification for the global environment') project received EUR 7.5 million in EU funding to take up this challenge and it delivered exciting new tracking techniques using radio wave technology. Problems with the transport of goods such as delays, contamination or changes in temperature can mean that products are sometimes damaged or degraded when they arrive at their destination, and perishable goods such as food or pharmaceutical products are particularly vulnerable to this.
At a time when European leaders are gathering to welcome the dawn of a new era with the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty, this change may well prove to be more extensive than anticipated. The coming days could spell the end of the era when Europe considered the fight against poverty a priority. In the ongoing discussions on the Banana Dossier, the ACP States have made numerous concessions in an effort towards finding a definitive and balanced solution. In fact, analysis of the European banana market has shown that the customs tariff of €176/t that has been applied to banana imports from Central and South American countries (MFN countries) since January 2006, has sharply increased their presence on the EU market. There is no risk whatsoever, not now nor in the future, given the limited production capacity of the ACP countries that the European market will be “flooded” with ACP bananas.