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”

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”

Implications of the EC orientation for Post Cotonou negotiations for ACP agro-food sectors

 

Summary
The EC consensus on development document recognizes the role of agricultures in eradicating poverty and the importance of smallholder farmers within agriculture in developing countries. It commits the EU to developing value chains which benefit the poor. The EC staff working document in contrast clearly articulates EU security, migration and economic preoccupations in redefining the EU’s relationship with ACP countries. The EC communication on a renewed EU-ACP partnership for its part recognizes the need for responsible investment in agro-food sector development in Africa.
Read more “Implications of the EC orientation for Post Cotonou negotiations for ACP agro-food sectors”

Planned  hard  BREXIT raises stakes for ACP

Summary

While somewhat contradictory, the UK’s 12 point ‘Plan for Britain’ appears to suggest the UK intends to leave the single market and the EU customs union, so as to be able to pursue its own bilateral trade agreements with faster growing economies outside the EU. Within this approach little consideration is being given to the consequences of UK policy choices for developing countries within the ACP Group and beyond. The UK’s departure approach will make it more difficult for the UK to become an associate signatory to the existing EPA agreements and increases the urgency of ACP governments establishing with the UK authorities a mechanisms to avoid ‘a disruptive cliff edge’ in ACP access to the UK market. It would also appear to increase the urgency of ACP governments establishing dialogues with the UK and EU authorities on how to address the adjustment challenges which will arise from the erosion of the value of ACP preferences as a result of Brexit. Read more “Planned  hard  BREXIT raises stakes for ACP”