Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

November 2017
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EDITO
Saturday, 18 November 2017
On December 11, Haiti signed the Economic Partnership Agreement and joins the fourteen Caribbean States that signed the EPA in October 2008. This will strengthen Haiti's ties both with the EU, and with other Caribbean countries. The Cariforum-EU EPA is North-South trade and development agreement of new generation. It aims to promote sustainable development, boost trade, investment and innovation, help build a regional market among Caribbean countries, and tackle poverty in the region. Previous preferential trade arrangements with the EU had failed to boost Caribbean countries' development. Other developing countries had also criticised those arrangements as discriminating against them, and had challenged them at the World Trade Organisation. So the EU and the Cariforum group of Caribbean countries negotiated a new trade and development agreement, the EPA, between 2004 and 2007. The EPA was signed in October 2008, by 14 out of fifteen Cariforum member states. The only Least Developed Country in the Western hemisphere, Haiti has recently been grappling with a range of pressing problems.
Monday, 14 December 2009
The European Union has informed the East African Community (EAC) that the failure or delay in signing the Economic Partnership Agreement would lead to taxes on the exports of the EAC-member states. In a recent release by the EU Delegation in Nairobi said that failure to finalise the EPA process could lead to putting non-Least Developed Countries such as Kenya on the Generalised System of Preferences list. According to the statement, some of the key export products particularly from Kenya would attract re-introduction or increase in tariffs. The EPA was supposed to be concluded by July 31, 2009-but missed the deadline due to lack of consensus on rules of origin-most favoured a clause on agriculture, trade in services and sustainable development.
Friday, 11 December 2009
The South Africa Agribusiness Report Q110 continues on the themes touched upon in previous issues as the continent's top agricultural producer seeks to diversify the sector in terms of both primary production and value-added processing. The South African agricultural industry possesses typical 'dual economy' characteristics of a local subsistence sector against a relatively well-developed commercial sector. Increasingly, capital intensive production is seen to drive industry dynamics as employment in more labour intensive farming dwindle, likely fuelling tensions, particularly along racial lines. Despite having one of the continent's more developed agricultural sectors, food security is still a concern in some sub-sectors. As the country seeks to improve self-sufficiency, we are increasingly seeing the drive for food production gathering pace via overseas production. South African farmers will be able to access up to 10mn hectares of farmland in the Republic of Congo under a recent deal signed by the two countries.
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.