UK NGOs call for new gold standard UK unilateral preferential trade arrangement

Summary
UK NGOs are critical of proposals to transpose current EU reciprocal trade arrangements into bilateral UK trade deals with ACP countries. UK NGOs favour a new ‘gold standard’ of unilateral non-reciprocal trade preferences which extends beyond current such arrangements. However it is difficult to see how such non-reciprocal trade arrangements can be reconciled with the UK governments’ over-riding preoccupation with maintaining and expanding access for UK exporters to non-EU markets via bilateral UK free trade agreements Read more “UK NGOs call for new gold standard UK unilateral preferential trade arrangement”

Capacity constraints and complexities of ‘grandfathering’  highlighted by Parliament Report

Summary
There is a lack clarity on the legal possibilities for ‘grandfathering’ existing reciprocal preferential trade arrangements into bilateral deals with the UK. There are also serious human resource capacity constraints on the UK governments ability to simultaneously negotiate more than a handful of free trade area agreements. This is likely to require a prioritisation of UK FTA negotiations, with smaller ACP countries potentially being left out in the cold. This suggest a need for a coordinated ACP initiative to establish a joint ACP-DIT working group to explore

a) the establishment of transitional unilateral arrangements to prevent any disruption of current ACP access to the UK market and

b) simplified modalities for refitting existing EPAs into bilateral trade agreements with the UK, including the addition of a range of necessary ‘EPA+’ elements. Read more “Capacity constraints and complexities of ‘grandfathering’  highlighted by Parliament Report”

Britain’s continued commitment to Africa post Brexit asserted in context of global drive for free trade

Summary
The UK government sees clear commercial benefits in avoiding a disruptive cliff edge in trade relations with Africa, particularly South Africa, the UK’s gateway to Africa. There has been a surge of UK Ministerial visits to Africa. The UK appears diplomatic open to refitting EU EPAs into bilateral deals with the UK. The UK’s Africa focus risks leaving Caribbean and Pacific ACP countries out in the cold. The ACP group collectively will need to capitalize on the UK’s commercial interest in Africa to ensure existing preferential access to the UK is extended for all ACP countries from day 1 of the UK’s departure from the EU. Existing reciprocal arrangements can subsequently be refitted, with appropriate adjustments. Read more “Britain’s continued commitment to Africa post Brexit asserted in context of global drive for free trade”

The ACP and the increasing importance of exports to Polish poultry sector growth

Summary
Sub-Saharan African markets are of growing importance to the Polish poultry sector. The granting of a health certificate for exports to South Africa will see this importance increase. While EU governments in ‘new’ member states commonly complain they gain little from the relationship with the ACP, the strong expansion of their agro-food exports to ACP countries belies this compliant. Without ACP markets, Polish poultry sector growth would be slower. Read more “The ACP and the increasing importance of exports to Polish poultry sector growth”

EU Task Force calls for more action to strength the position of farmers in supply chains

Summary
The EU continues to seek ways of improving the functioning of agricultural supply chains, so the agricultural base in the EU is not undermined by unequal power relationships within supply chains. In November 2017 an especially convened Agricultural Markets Task Force called for: new EU rules and enforcement mechanisms to address unfair trading practices; mandatory price reporting to improve market transparency and increased support to EU farmers to improve their position within individual supply chains.

Given the role which powerful multinationals play in global trade and the unequal power relationships this gives rise to across ACP-EU agricultural supply chains, there is a strong case for extending EU policy initiatives to strengthen the position of agricultural producers within individual supply chains to ACP-EU agro-food sector trade relations. Read more “EU Task Force calls for more action to strength the position of farmers in supply chains”

After Brexit: How to secure ACP interests

Summary
The ACP Secretary General has taken up suggestions for a 2 stage approach to future ACP-UK trade relations, with the transitional unilateral extension of current market access conditions being seen as essential in avoiding ‘a disruptive cliff edge’ in ACP exports to the UK. The inaugural meeting of Commonwealth Trade Ministers offers an opportunity to secure UK commitments in this regard.

ACP trade concerns around Brexit will need to be addressed independently of the state of UK-EU27 negotiations. However there are both UK and EU27 dimensions to the trade effects of Brexit on ACP food and agriculture sectors which will need to be addressed. This includes joint ACP-EU28 initiatives to avert any WTO challenge to necessary transitional market access arrangements.

The creation of a joint ACP-DIT working group could offer a vehicle for ensuring ACP interests are not lost sight of in the face of the multitude of pressing trade priorities facing the UK authorities. Read more “After Brexit: How to secure ACP interests”

South Africa looking for predictable EPA based trade arrangement to boost trade with UK

Summary
In discussions between the South African Minister of Trade and UK International Trade Secretary the possibility of building on the existing EPAs in developing future bilateral trade relations with the UK was raised. This is seen by the South African Minister as providing a simple mechanisms for avoiding any unintended adverse fallout from the Brexit process. A key question to be determined is the ‘when and how’ related to the launching of such a re-fitting process.  This would appear to be an important issue for clarification at the forthcoming inaugural meeting of Commonwealth Trade Ministers. Read more “South Africa looking for predictable EPA based trade arrangement to boost trade with UK”

Growth in EU dairy exports overhangs ACP dairy sector development

Summary
The expansion of EU milk production has fuelled increased dairy exports. Except for fat-filled milk powders and to a lesser degree skimmed milk powder, ACP countries are not major markets for EU dairy exports. However the small size of national ACP dairy markets means even relatively small volumes of EU exports can disrupt efforts to expand local milk-to dairy supply chains. What is more the strongest growth in EU dairy exports has been in fat filled milk powders and skimmed milk powder, where ACP markets are more significant and where the dangers of displacement of local milk supplies are highest.

With EU milk production projected to increase 14.6 million tonnes in the next decade and with 50% of this expanded production needing to be exported, concerns are increasing over the impact this could have on efforts to develop milk-to-dairy supply chains in ACP countries. Read more “Growth in EU dairy exports overhangs ACP dairy sector development”

Brexit, the Commonwealth and Opportunities for Addressing ACP Countries Trade Concerns

Summary
The scheduled inaugural meeting of Commonwealth Trade Ministers from 9-10 March 2017 would appear to provide an ideal opportunity for a coordinated push by Commonwealth ACP governments for an early and concrete commitment from the UK government to ensuring no disruption of pre-existing access to the UK market, as a result of the UK’s formal departure from the EU. This is particularly important for those Commonwealth ACP countries which have a higher than average dependence on the UK market in their trade with the EU, either overall or at the sector specific level.

Ignoring this opportunity and allowing existing arrangements for ACP access to the UK market to be interrupted, would provide a far from ideal basis for the UK to seek ‘more favourable asymmetric liberalisation on the ACP side’. Read more “Brexit, the Commonwealth and Opportunities for Addressing ACP Countries Trade Concerns”

ACP need to stay alert to possible delays in UK-EU trade deal

Summary
Relying on the UK becoming an associated member of existing EPA arrangements would appear unwise, since extended delays in formulating a new post BREXIT UK-EU27 trade framework would make this option very difficult. While a range of options are being advanced for how the interests of developing countries can be accommodated in the BREXIT process, this will require active political engagement by ACP governments with UK opinion leaders and policy makers if arrangements favourable to the interests of ACP countries are to be set in place.
Read more “ACP need to stay alert to possible delays in UK-EU trade deal”