Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

June 2017
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EDITO
Friday, 23 June 2017

The National Agricultural Marketing Council of South Africa, together with tralac, an NGO studying trade law, has released a study on African agricultural trade as it plays out on the world stage. The conclusion of ‘WTO: Agricultural issues for Africa’ by Prof Ron Sandrey and his fellow authors, is that there are few agricultural sectors where Africa would benefit from WTO intervention and that the continent couldn’t do better than its current preferential access to the European Union. For South Africa, which is designated a developed nation under WTO rules (apparently a self-selected designation), the situation is more complex.

Today in each EU nation, most people wear genetically modified (GM) cotton, and farm animals massively feed on imported GM soy. Yet many countries vote against import authorizations of the very same GM crops they depend upon: We import more than 60kg of GM soya for each of the EU’s 500 million citizens each year; on the other hand, most European farmers are banned from growing GM crops. The European Academies of Science have said: “There is compelling evidence that GM crops can contribute to sustainable development goals with benefits to farmers, consumers, the environment and the economy.”A recent Food and Agriculture Organization report confirms that agricultural biotechnologies can help small producers to be more resilient and adapt to climate change. Like safety authorities around the world, the European Food Safety Authority regularly confirms that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are as safe as conventionally bred crops

Tuesday, 02 May 2017

The first South African avocados have started arriving in Europe to find quite empty markets because recent floods have disrupted the Peruvian avocado industry, causing a delay in ripening and loading their fruit. “We normally receive good prices this time of the year due to an empty market. Because of the lack of supply from Peru, prices might even be higher than in previous years,” says Rouxan Jansen van Rensburg of Corefruit. Their first consignment of Fuerte and Maluma Hass arrived late last week in the EU. “At opening levels of €15 to €16 for 4kg Hass it looks very promising.”

Botswana is due to continue benefiting from cooperation with the European Union (EU) despite uncertainty from the United Kingdom's decision to exit the European common market. In an interview on the sidelines of the Botswana heads of missions conference in Gaborone recently, the Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, Mr Samuel Outlule said the country's trading agreements with the EU were still in effect, and that the legal aspects of British separation ('Brexit') were still to be ascertained."Of course there are a lot of questions that are still to be answered because the relationship evolved for over 40 years, hence there has been a number of laws and regulatory arrangements with regard to trade. So we are still to know if the agreements of separation will not disrupt the existing commercial and economic relations," he said.

A deeper UK engagement with African trade is sensible and beneficial, however, negotiators will need to wake up to complexities of hashing out any deals on the continent. When The Times reported that some Whitehall officials had been using the term ‘Empire 2.0’ to describe post-Brexit UK’s campaign to cosy up to its former colonies, there was a significant backlash among some members of the 52-state Commonwealth. Yet despite the unofficial branding, the official line is one of reciprocal trade deals and closer foreign policy – both of which will be welcome to the UK and its allies.

South Africa''s Government''s priority is to ensure that there is certainty and continuity in the trade and investment relationship with the United Kingdom as a result of Brexit, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. Minister Davies told the British Chamber of Business that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) provides a good basis to facilitate trade between South Africa and the UK going forward, SA News reports Monday. 'Our priority now is that we do not want any interruption in our trade relations with the UK. The UK government has given an indication that it will roll-over existing trade arrangements to provide continuity and predictability,' said the official. This, as the UK is set to leave the European Union (EU) through a term known as Brexit, the official information agency points out.

"We too have a role in determining our response and where feasible, we should make choices that reflect our reassessment of priorities within a changing world," said Ms Theresa May, the British Prime Minister. "...I want us to be a secure, prosperous, tolerant country, a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators that will shape the world ahead."t was a bitter-sweet farewell following the delivery of Ms May's historic letter to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, officially notifying him of the intention to trigger Article 50 and quit the European Union (EU). Perhaps it feels like the end of an episode in one's favourite TV series, as you wait for what happens next.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with regional trade facilitator TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) to improve cross border trade and enhance trade links between the country and East Africa Community (EAC) member states. The government of the Netherlands has committed $6.7 million to kick-start the projects. TMEA will invest in projects involving already available resources such as water transport, simplifying trade processes through training and facilitating adoption of ICT around Eastern DRC. They will comprise dredging and rehabilitation of Kalundu Port on Lake Tanganyika; capacity building and implementation of Integrated Border Management Systems on the border crossings in Rusizi between Rwanda and Bukavu; rehalibitation of the Ports of Kasenyi on the DRC side and Ntoroko in Uganda; as well as infrastructure work at the border crossing at Goli, Uganda and Mahagi, DRC.

A United Nations think-tank has warned the East African Community against entering into an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union arguing that it will neither spur economic growth nor bring wealth to the region's citizens. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) says in a report that if the EPA is signed, local industries will struggle to withstand competitive pressures from EU firms, while the region will be stuck in its position as a low value-added commodity exporter. "If the EAC-EU EPA is fully implemented, the region risks losing trading opportunities with other partners, industrial output, welfare and GDP," the 45-page report seen by The EastAfrican says.

The European Union has allocated €53 million (Shs202.9 billion) towards easing trade transaction in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (Comesa) bloc where Uganda is a member. The money is part of the 11th European Development Fund's €85 million (Shs325.5 billion) support for Comesa regional integration programmes. Comesa Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya at a recent regional meeting of member states held in Lusaka Zambia, to validate the identified projects, said: "The overarching goal of the trade facilitation programme is to make trade transactions easier, quicker, more efficient and less costly, thereby enhancing trade flows in the identified transport corridors." The funding expected to increase intra-regional trade flows of goods, persons and services by reducing the costs/delays of imports/exports at specific border posts.