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February 06, 2012

ACP-EU news briefs from the CTA: agriculture, development, trade _ 1st week February 2012

January saw a wide range of ACP-EU issues. Particularly, last week we knew the conclusions of the Council meeting on Agriculture and Fisheries. Ministers adopted a decision authoriszng the Commission to open negotiations with the aim of concluding a fisheries partnership agreement and protocol with the Republic of Mauritius.

 The protocol will define the fishing opportunities to be granted to EU vessels, the financial compensation, the framework for the implementation of the sectoral support and the clauses related to the duration and the revision of the protocol. Something similar has happened regarding Mozambique as ministers adopted a decision on the signing of the provisional application of a protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution.

Stunning seemed to be the declarations of the Tanzanian Industry, Trade and Marketing Minister Cyril Chami, who shed  light on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). As EPA negotiations appear to be unfavorable for the economic growth of the East African member states, the Tanzanian government asks the European Commission for a review. Cyril Chami particularly stated that  "development cooperation should be an integral part of EPA to ensure that EAC partner states ably adjust to the new challenges and maximally exploit benefits offered under the agreement." 

He said that even though both parties had affirmed their recognition of development needs for the EAC block, some of the items on the agenda have appeared to be depressing to EAC members.

The world trade is witnessing another banana issue: The President of the newly-created African Pineapples and Bananas Association (APIBANA), Mr. George Kporye, has urged government to sign the EPA with the EU.

Kporye has stressed that the agreement guarantees a quota-free entry into the European market and he is thankful that the interim EPA that Ghana initialed on December 13, 2007, allows pineapple and banana producers access into the European market tariff-free.

“If Ghana does not sign the EPA, pineapple and banana producers will be subjected to tariffs, and we cannot afford that in the face of stiff competition”, Kporye  said.

Finally, we can address the most recent proposals of the European Commission (EC) regarding development: Following the statements of EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and the presentation of the communication "Trade, growth and development", the  EC has presented a series of proposals to make trade and development instruments work conjointly to ensure real poverty reduction across the world. The proposals notably aim at reinforcing the trade capacities of developing countries by making trade part of their development strategy. The role of trade is underlined one of the key drivers to support development, stimulate growth and to lift people out of poverty. Furthermore, today the EU calls for all developed economies to match its significant levels of market access to developing countries. 

According to the EC, to achieve this goal, developing countries' leadership must also face up to their responsibilities, undertaking domestic reforms to ensure that the poor do indeed benefit from trade-led growth.

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