Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

March 2018
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Wednesday, 21 March 2018
This issue paper, titled “Legal and Systemic Contested issues in Economic Partnership Agreements and WTO Rules: Which Way Now?”, and written by Dr Cosmas Milton Obote O’chieng, provides a legal analysis of some systemic issues regarding the relationship between the WTO and EPAs.  Some of these issues include the following: The application of the Most Favourable Nation Clause, Article XXIV of GATT and its relationship with EPAs; The effects of the “standstill” clause on bound or applied tariff rates applied to ACP countries by WTO members; The political and legal effects of the “Non-Execution Clause” in EPAs; The articulation of the dispute settlement mechanisms of EPAs and their interactions with the WTO one. The paper concludes with a series of legal recommendations that could be useful to all stakeholders in understanding the stakes involved in the EPA negotiations.
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
This issue paper, titled “Environmental Issues in Economic Partnership Agreements: Implications for Developing Countries exhaustively reviews all rules related to trade and environment in several of the already signed EPAs. The aim of the paper is to enable ACP countries to understand how trade policy related to the environment has been introduced in EPAs, and how those policies might impact sustainable development in ACP countries. The paper starts by presenting the current European approach on trade and environment in those agreements. More specifically, it addresses the current state of negotiations, analyses precise proposals made, and explores some of the implications of introducing environmental issues in the EPAs.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
The December issue is discussing the new regulations on organic farming entered into force in 2009. The organic farming sector is subject to ever growing interest both among European consumers who opt to buy organic products as an alternative to products from conventional production and among farmers in developing countries who seize the opportunity to export their organic produce to the EU market to respond to this demand. This issue alerts on the new import provisions that exporters in third countries need to apply when trading organic products within the EU. It also reports on the end of transitional quotas for sugar and rice under the EU's 'Everything But Arms' (EBA) initiative of the Generalised System of Preferences. The EBA regime has been providing all least developed countries with duty free access to the EU market for all their exports, except for arms and ammunitions, and with limited transitional quotas for sugar and rice. These have been progressively expanded annually since 2001.
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.