Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

March 2018
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Thursday, 22 March 2018

The European Union is considering imposing a tax on multinational corporations which shirk their tax responsibilities in developing countries while hiding their profits away in secrecy jurisdictions/tax havens. EU Development Commissioner Karel De Gucht suggested last week a tax in Europe for multinationals operating in developing nations but squirrelling profits off to tax havens. "We must take our responsibilities regarding multinationals based in Europe with activities in the developing world and not consider that financial transfer to tax havens have been duly taxed", De Gucht told a good governance conference at the European Parliament in Brussels. Asked for details, he said that Europeans should find a system to allow them to raise considerable funds for development aid. Currently tax evasion is "at least three times bigger than development aid", he added.

Friday, 18 December 2009
At the 2986th Council meeting on Agriculture and Fisheries held in Brussels on 14-16 December 2009, the delegation of Netherlands provided information regarding the conclusions of the International conference on "GMOs in European agriculture and food production" policy in Europe held in The Hague on 15-16 November 2009. Some delegations warmly thanked Gerda Verburg, Minister for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and her colleague, Jacqueline Cramer Minister for Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment who jointly organised the event. The Austrian and Hungarian delegations welcomed the idea to have a Commission’s proposal allowing individual Member States to adopt national measures leading to regulate and/or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs on their own territory. Commissionner Vassiliou reminded ministers of President Barroso's political guidelines regarding GMOs: "In an area like GMOs, for example, it should be possible to combine a Community authorisation system, based on science, with freedom for Member States to decide whether or not they wish to cultivate GM crops on their territory".
Thursday, 17 December 2009
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
Member States voted yesterday in favour of a Commission proposal to divide up an additional €300 million in aid for EU dairy farmers. The money will be distributed according to production within quota in the 2008/09 milk production season (April 2008-March 2009). The money will have to be allocated to individual farmers who are severely affected by the low dairy prices of this summer and who encounter liquidity problems. Member States will have to communicate before the end of February the objective criteria they will use to allocate the money to individual farmers.

On November 30, the Action team received the Monitoring report on the initial 5 months. The report mainly contains judgments on the design and the quality of the Logical Framework Matrix-logframe presented in the project proposal. It also expresses some ex-ante judgments on the likelihood of the project impact and sustainability on the basis of assessment on the size and the previous experiences of the Partner Organizations, without considering the experience and the professional competence of the experts. They point out that action issues have been listed very well; but there is some confusion between the policy and cultural issues the action is tackling (i.e. the problems upon which the action wants to have a positive impact in front of which the action objectives were conceived) and the issues emerging from project implementation (i.e. the managerial challenges that the manager is facing with the team).

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.

Taxes are central for the functioning of a state and for the provision of public goods. Many developing countries cannot finance their policies through taxes and rely on external revenues such as development assistance. Generally, developing countries have a lower tax-to-GDP ratio than developed countries. According to several studies examining the tax-to-GDP ratio in Sub Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia: In Sub Saharan Africa, the tax-to-GDP ratio increased from less than 15% in 1980 to more than 18% in 2005. This increase is almost entirely due to natural resource taxes (income from production sharing, royalties or corporate income tax on oil and mining companies). In the same 25 years non-resource related revenue rose by less than 1 % of GDP (Keen/Mansour). There are considerable differences among African countries such as the Central African Republic and Guinea where tax revenue is under 10% of GDP, and South Africa were it reaches 25% or even Namibia where it is 30.1% (Volkerink). In Latin America and the Caribbean the tax-to-GDP ratio has increased from 12 % in 1990 to 18.5% in 2006. The ratio is as low as 10% in Haiti and reaches more than 34% in Brazil. Mexico is the only country where the ratio decreased (from 12.6% to 11%) (Martner).

European nations are set to pledge around six billion euros to help poor nations tackle global warming at a summit in Brussels on 11th December, but the funding will be provided on a voluntary basis as a result of worrying debt problems in countries like Greece. Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish prime minister and current holder of the EU's six-month rotating residency, said he was confident that the sums would be found. More than half of the EU's 27 member states have already promised so-called 'fast-start' funding for the next three years until 2013, he explained. But the Swedish premier warned that contributions would only be made on a voluntary basis, as countries are in very different budgetary positions. "We have EU member states with International Monetary Fund programmes, with huge budget deficits. This is on a voluntary basis, and already more than half of the states have provided figures", Reinfeltd told a press conference in Brussels on the 10th December.
On the 7th of December, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development invited all Europeans to cast their vote in the final stage of the EU organic logo competition. The website hosts the online vote where the three final logos will be displayed until 31 January. The new logo aims to enhance consumer protection and promote organic farming. Unlike the current logo, the winning entry will be obligatory for all pre-packaged organic products that derive from the 27 Member States and meet the labelling standards.
Monday, 14 December 2009
Mr Eric Thys, expert at Be-troplive, is our special guest this week. Be-troplive is an informal and multidisciplinary Belgian platform on tropical animal health and production, which is open to institutional or individual members involved in tropical animal health and production activities. Members are Belgian academic institutions and research institutes, Belgian development organisations, NGO's and study bureau's, Belgian government and parastatal services involved in development in general, and tropical animal health and production in particular and Individuals involved in tropical animal health and production activities, having worked for a project or organisation with a clear link to Belgium.