Role of UK Groceries Code Adjudicator could be extended

Summary

The UK GCA performance has been praised for gradually changing supermarket practices, with a debate now underway on whether the scope of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) should be extended. Traidcraft has called for such an extension to address abuses which take place elsewhere in grocery supply chains served by developing country suppliers, who currently have no means of seeking redress. Strengthening the code to effectively cover all routes to market used by developing country suppliers is one important dimension of the current GCA review. A further important dimension is the important role which such regulatory initiatives can play in changing supermarket sourcing practices. This is an important issue given the growing role of foreign owned supermarkets across the ACP and the difficulties this poses for local agricultural producers in entering this expanding retail market component. Read more “Role of UK Groceries Code Adjudicator could be extended”

Agriculture to be a Focus of the Renewed Africa-EU Partnership

Summary
Supporting African agro-food sector development given its employment, food security and rural development effects is nominally a focus of the proposed renewed Africa-EU partnership. However differences of opinion over what constitutes an appropriate ‘regulatory and policy framework’ for African agro-food sector development, alongside unacknowledged tensions between EU agro-food sector export objectives and African agro-food sector development aspirations, could pose serious challenges for a renewed Africa-EU partnership in this area.  Read more “Agriculture to be a Focus of the Renewed Africa-EU Partnership”

UK WTO representative seeks to clarify future UK trade treatment of developing countries

Addendum to Article
UK government commits to extending EBA access for LDCs post Brexit

Following on from the 24th June 2017 UK government statement entitled ‘Government pledges improved post-Brexit access to UK markets for world’s poorest countries’(1), the UK representative to the UN and Other International Organisations in Geneva sought to clarify UK policy towards non-LDC developing countries.  In a letter to fellow representatives to the UN, which was copied to WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo, Julian Braithwaite declared the UK government’s commitment to ‘avoiding disruption for our trading partners as we leave the European Union’. It was stated ‘the UK has decided to replicate its existing trade regime in the WTO in new UK-only schedules’. This was announced on response to questions from WTO members as to ‘what will happen to the nearly £20 billion of exports to the UK from developing countries who benefit from special tariff preferences’. Read more “UK WTO representative seeks to clarify future UK trade treatment of developing countries”

EU Delegate makes case for Nigerian signature of West African EPA

Summary
The EU delegate to Nigeria and ECOWAS maintains West Africa’s economic development interests and not EU commercial interests underpin the EU-West Africa EPA, citing the range of measures aimed at protecting sensitive sectors in West Africa, such as the agri-food sector.  However this ignores the likely trade effects in the agri-food sector of West African commitments contained in the EPA on the elimination of non-tariff barriers to imports from the EU. How these EPA provisions are interpreted and applied in practice will be critical to the future evolution of EU agri-food exports to markets like Nigeria.  If Nigerian concerns over the trade and economic consequences of EPA implementation are to be addressed, the EU Council of Ministers will need to commit to subordinating the interpretation and application of any EU-West Africa EPA provisions to the structural economic transformation aspirations of West African governments and societies. Read more “EU Delegate makes case for Nigerian signature of West African EPA”

WTO quotas pose thorny problems for agriculture sector in Brexit negotiations

Summary
Dividing up WTO TRQ obligations between the UK and EU27 could provoke discontent amongst WTO members over how this impacts on their existing rights and market opportunities. Such discontent could reduce the prospects of securing the acceptance by WTO members of any unilateral transitional arrangements which may be required to ensure continuity of current ACP access to the UK from day 1 of the UK’s formal departure from the EU.
Read more “WTO quotas pose thorny problems for agriculture sector in Brexit negotiations”

South Africa satisfied with current progress on Brexit related discussions with the UK

 

Summary
Despite the ‘in principle’ understanding that existing EPA commitments should be the basis of a future bilateral South Africa-UK agreement, any attempt at ‘grandfathering-in’ on a bilateral basis of existing EU negotiated reciprocal trade preferences, outside of a formal WTO compatible FTA, could face strong opposition from other WTO members.

Any efforts to ensure a re-fitted reciprocal trade agreement is in place from day 1 of Brexit could face difficulties around the question of the dividing up of existing quota restricted access for EU28 exports and the need to address the concerns of other SACU members in their future trade relations with the UK (notably those arising from the erosion of the value of traditional preferential access linked to changes in UK agricultural and agricultural trade policies post-Brexit).

Finally any early South Africa-UK bilateral trade deal could reduce the incentive for the UK government to address the concerns of the broader ACP Group in terms of their future access to the UK market. Read more “South Africa satisfied with current progress on Brexit related discussions with the UK”

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”

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”