Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Monday, 18 December 2017

The OECS Commission has joined the Saint Lucia Government’s Department of Commerce, International Trade, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs in celebration of November as “Business Month” under the theme: Promoting an Entrepreneurial Culture – Innovation and Creativity. In recognition of Business Month, a CARIFORUM – EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Workshop on Regional Business to Business Strategic Networking was held on Nov. 28, at the Finance Administrative Centre in Pointe Seraphine, Castries, where goods and services firms, as well as business support organizations of Saint Lucia and the wider OECS region, were exposed to a series of informative sessions on the export of products and services to the European Market.

European Investment Bank (EIB), has granted the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), a line of credit agreement amounting to €100 million. The agreement took place last week in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, on the sidelines of the African Union-European Union Summit. The facility is aimed at financing trade-related long-term productive investments by private sector entities, or commercially operated public sector entities in Afreximbank member countries that are also signatories to the Cotonou Agreement. The seven-year loan will finance trade-related investments and projects in Africa, with particular emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) engaged in export manufacturing.

The ACP Sugar Group are deeply concerned with the recent news that the EU plans to modify its market access offer to Mercosur to include sensitive products, among them sugar, during the next round of trade talks between 4 and 10 December. This is contrary to the consistent assurances on sugar and other sensitive products given by the European Commission to the ACP Group, most recently by Commissioner Malmström at the Joint ACP-EU Ministerial Trade Committee in October 2017 where she stated that, “When negotiating with other parties, we keep in mind the potential impact on the EU-ACP trade relationship. The EU's defensive interests largely correspond to the ACP Group's identified interests. Sensitive products, including bananas, sugar, rum, beef and rice, are thus given a particular treatment.”

Four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries were named Tuesday in a new list of global tax havens released by the European Union. EU finance ministers said that the countries - Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago - were among 17 countries on the blacklist of tax havens, after 10 months of investigations by EU officials. Caribbean countries have in the past, been very critical of being included on these lists, insisting that they have done everything as outlined by various European organisations like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The majority of Irish exports to Africa went to Nigeria in September this year. An EU-Africa summit takes place in the Ivory Coast this week. The crisis at home means Taoiseach Leo Varadkar didn't go, but attendees included French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Boosting trade, security and investment were all on the agenda. Irish trade with Africa is increasing. Businesses here sent €23m in exports to Nigeria during the month, according to figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Nigeria was followed by South Africa, which accounted for €21m of Irish exports in September, and Algeria (€8.9m). Exports include food and drink, software and engineering

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