Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

April 2017
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Friday, 28 April 2017

New EU data shows that 10 product categories account for 48% of EU agri-food exports in 2014, new figures from the EU show.  4 out of the 10 most important export categories belong to the product group ‘agricultural food and feed products’ (i.e. farm production) and 6 originate from the group ‘food preparations and beverages’ (i.e. food and drink industry). The top 10 product categories are: Spirits 8% (wines & liqueurs); Wine 8% (cider & vinegar);  Wheat 8%;   Infant formula 5%; Food preparations 4%; Milk powders and whey 4%; Chocolate and ice-cream 4%; Pasta and pastries and breads 4%; Vegetables 3%; Pork meat 3%.

Fisheries and aquaculture ministers from the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) called on the European Union, United Nations, World Bank and other bodies to provide adequate financial resources for the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan for Fisheries and Aquaculture adopted in Fiji in 2012. The ACP ministers urged the international community to agree to concrete actions to reduce the effects of climate change at the COP21 and to cooperate more closely with African, Caribbean and Pacific nations on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and piracy. The group also called on the EU for support on dealing with the erosion of preferential tariffs for exports to EU markets from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Julius Garvey, son of pioneering black rights activist Marcus Garvey, called for a greater emphasis on agriculture as the key to restructure the colonial economy and to strive for sustainable development. Using the example of breadfruit, Garvey noted how rich an diverse the local vegetable was: it is gluten-free, has a lower glycaemic index and it is nutritionally superior to wheat and with other measures will combat obesity and its derivative non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart-attacks and stroke. He noted that it could be a catalyst in reducing the regions high import bills and for diversifying exports.

Randolf Aaldijk of Origin Fruit Direct explains that sales of South Africna citrus are high and export is being well regulated. Aaldijk highlighted that while "the Black Spot measures continue to hover over the market like the sword of Damocles (…) it's admirable how much time, money and effort the South African growers are investing to control Black Spot, because it's not easy for them with all those conditions." He adds, "the earnings are a lot lower an the exchange rate of Euro-Rand is still reasonably favourable." While South Africa is exporting to new market destinations, the EU nevertheless remains an important market and reliable trade partner.

As relations worsen between the United States, the EU and Russia, the latter is strategically broadening its economic and trade ties with African countries. Indeed, Russian authorities have been looking for potential agricultural products exporters in Africa, as well as in the Latin America and Asia. South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, are amongst a few countries who have shown a willingness to boost exports of agricultural products especially fruits and vegetables to Russian food market.  Philip Mundia Githiora, the Minister Counsellor at the Kenyan Embassy in Moscow, pointed out that Russia offered a large market for Kenyan agricultural products, including cut-flowers, tea and coffee to the Russian Federation.

Tuesday, 04 August 2015

European dairy farmers have been protesting in light of the challenges facing milk producers at risk from falling milk prices. While oversupply in the EU market means cheaper milk for consumers, there is also concern that this would lead to more aggressive export policies towards developing and emerging countries. Sieta van Keimpema, Vice-President of the European Milk Board (EMB) noted, “the current system and the current policy have failed, plunging European dairy farmers into the abyss. (…) It is the same in every EU country. Putting the blame on individual countries or farmers is wrong, because they are all struggling with the same problem.” In the current situation where the volume produced in the market exceeds demand produces a negative effect on prices, many stakeholders strongly believe that  EU production must be adapted to counter the threat to dairy farmers’ livelihoods throughout Europe.

Friday, 31 July 2015

At the Sub-regional Workshop on Branding and the Use of Geographical Indications (GIs) in the Development of Management Strategies for Origin-Linked Products in Jamaica, Caribbean experts highlighted the importance of  protecting intellectual property(IP), and the links this had for the region's economic development. The European Union (EU) – as a major advocate of the use of GI, such as Cognac, Roquefort cheese, Parma ham - provided financial assistance to the Caribbean Export Development Agency, as well as support through the programmes linked to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and CARIFORUM to develop the use of GI's across the Caribbean. Promising GI's include Grenada Nutmeg and “Toledo cacao”, Trinidad and Tobago Cocoa and Antigua Black Pineapple and Jamaican Jerk.

Monday, 27 July 2015

The 32nd edition of the Luanda International Fair (Filda/FIL) got underway this week with the participation of  40 countries and territories and 930 national and international exhibitors. Participants of the four day long fair have come from Brazil, Japan, Spain, France, India, Turkey, Zambia, Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria, China, Indonesia and Macau. The Germany/Angola and Angola/Italy economic forums on Agriculture and Food Industry are expected to be among the main highlights. Salvador Cardoso, director of institutional relations for the fair explained, “Germany is this year’s special guest country and has strengthened its participation, with 28 companies of international renown, some of which already operate in the country.”

The EU’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) II, which was reformed in 2012 may be under attack from the financial sector to restart food speculation, according to Oxfam. The NGO is accusing the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) of watering down the directive , so much so that the latest looks like “a wishlist” for banks and insurance. David Hachfeld, an expert on the economy and globalisation at Oxfam Germany says, “The financial sector has successfully inserted numerous exceptions and loopholes. As a result, the original goal of lawmakers, to prevent market distortions and price fluctuations has been undermined (…) There is reason to fear that the hunger for profit among powerful finance actors may continue to lead to price explosions in agriculture-related commodities.”

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Committee on International Trade has published its report following the official mission to ItalyPort of Genoa and EXPO Milano. It notes, “with the EU being the world’s biggest trader in agri-food products and their leading importer from developing countries, the visit permitted to focus on the impact of the Union’s commercial policy on food security and safety, including FTAs and trade legislation on market access, safeguards, customs, trade facilitation external tariffs and quotas, autonomous trade preferences and protection of geographical indicators.”The joint AGRI, INTA and ITRE Press Conference also highlighted the need to strengthen rules-based WTO system and finalise the Doha Round.