UK government commits to extending EBA access for LDCs post Brexit

Summary

The UK has committed to extending in the immediate post-Brexit period the non-reciprocal duty free access granted LDCs under the EU’s current EBA initiative. However action was expected given the long standing UK support for duty free-quota free (DFQF) access for LDCs. The issue has always been whether current DFQF access enjoyed by ACP non-LDCs would be extended from 30th March 2019. This issue remains unclear, with the UK government solely making a commitment to explore options for maintaining existing trade arrangements. Read more “UK government commits to extending EBA access for LDCs post Brexit”

Need to restore differentiation in trade rules in support of structural transformation in Africa

Summary
Trade Minister Davies reflections on South Africa’s experience of trade liberalisation, which, with hindsight it is held, moved too rapidly for the countries capacity to adjust, potentially holds important lessons for ACP countries as they move towards the implementation of the EPAs concluded with the EU. It suggests ACP governments need to work together to ensure EPAs are interpreted and applied in a flexible and differentiated fashion, which places centre stage the structural economic transformation needs of ACP countries. This will need to be a central component of the forthcoming ACP-EU post-Cotonou negotiations, as well as on-going ACP Ministerial discussion on EPA implementation. Read more “Need to restore differentiation in trade rules in support of structural transformation in Africa”

USDA Highlights EU’s Continued Use of Protectionist Tools in the Agro-Food Sector

 

Summary
USDA highlights the EU’s continued use of protectionist trade tools in its agro-food sector. This boosts EU export competitiveness, which can harm ACP agricultural sectors (e.g. dairy and poultry sector development). EU practices contrasts sharply with EU policy prescriptions in an EPA context. This calls for the flexible interpretation and application of EPA commitments given the overriding importance of agriculture to livelihoods in many ACP countries. Read more “USDA Highlights EU’s Continued Use of Protectionist Tools in the Agro-Food Sector”

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”

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”

Decision time on EAC-EU EPA process

Summary

With the deadline for completion of the EAC EPA ratification once again upon the region, there are growing tensions within the EAC. The government of Tanzania maintains its reluctance to sign the EPA, while the government of Burundi is refusing to sign while EU aid programmes are suspended. The government of Uganda meanwhile seeks to play a mediating role aimed at reducing frictions within the EAC. The Kenyan and Rwandan governments  for their part have completed the ratification and notification process. However under EAC rules the trade agreement can’t enter into effect until all members have ratified the agreement.

It remains to be seen what the EC will now do, with Kenya potentially facing  a re-imposition of import duties on around ¾ of its exports to the EU, if the EC decides to play tough. Other options are available. Including the option of an EU Ministerial statement committing the EC to the flexible and responsible implementation of EPA commitments in the case of LDCs such as Tanzania, where concerns arises as to their compatibility with national development aspirations. Read more “Decision time on EAC-EU EPA process”