Can the Post Cotonou Negotiations Provide the Context for a Rethink of the EU’s EPA Policy?


While the debate in East Africa on the EAC-EU EPA continues, with the UNECA warning of the dangers posed by the agreement to the structural economic transformation of East Africa, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the EPAs as ‘not right’ and possible in need of re-negotiation. A key issue will be laying the basis for EU trade agreements to contribute to the structural economic transformation of African agro-food sectors. This issue needs to be taken up in the post-Cotonou negotiations in order to:

  1. enshrine an EU commitment to the flexible and responsible implementation of EPA commitments in legally binding agreements;
  2. address the systematic bias against smallholder producers and small scale exporters which exists in design and implementation EU food safety and SPS control systems;
  3. extend the current EU regulatory initiative son UTPs to ACP-EU supply chains;
  4. revise the design of loan and investment support instruments to effectively meet the needs of local agricultural producers and agro-processing companies.

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Dominican Republic and West Africa lead way in growth in ACP Mango exports to the EU


ACP exports of mangoes to the EU have grown strongly, particularly since 2007, with further growth in EU consumer demand likely. While tariffs are not an issue in the mango sector, new trade agreements do appear to have boosted investment and facilitated expanded exports in both ACP and non-ACP countries in response to rising EU demand. Brexit is unlikely to pose any challenges for direct ACP mango exports to the UK, but could lead to problems if the absence of a UK-EU27 agreement, spills over into reduced cooperation on SPS and freight forwarding arrangements.  This is important in the mango sector given the role the Netherlands plays in the re-export trade across the EU, including to the UK. This issue needs to be closely monitored by those ACP exporters which are most likely to be affected. Read more “Dominican Republic and West Africa lead way in growth in ACP Mango exports to the EU”

EU West Africa Dairy Sector Developments

European dairy companies continue to expand their operations in West Africa, with the region being seen as one with tremendous market potential.  While some companies are seeking to support local dairy sector development as part of their market expansion strategies, this is by no means universal. Since 2014 low global bulk dairy commodity prices have compounded the existing challenges faced in developing local milk-to-dairy supply chains in West Africa. This suggests a need for a sector wide approach to dairy sector development involving a commitment by all EU dairy companies to responsible patterns of trade and investment, designed to support the gradual growth in local milk-to-dairy supply chains. Read more “EU West Africa Dairy Sector Developments”

Surges in onion exports to Mauritania could close off longer term opportunities for Dutch exports


In a context where West Africa is the major destination for extra-EU Dutch onion exports, surges of Dutch onion exports to Mauritania are severely depressing local onion prices. This is in part linked to the closure of the Russian market. This could provoke trade restrictions in Mauritania in an effort to protect local onion producers. Any moves to restrict onion imports into Mauritania would need to be closely linked to targeted efforts to strengthen the functioning of local onion supply chains. Experience elsewhere in Africa, in a country facing similar environmental conditions, namely Namibia, could hold important lessons for Mauritanian onion sector trade policy. Read more “Surges in onion exports to Mauritania could close off longer term opportunities for Dutch exports”

UK government commits to extending EBA access for LDCs post Brexit


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”

ACP banana exporters and Brexit

Brexit is likely to give rise to 3 distinct challenges for ACP banana exporters: retaining preferential access to the UK market; dealing with the market consequences of a possible abolition of duties on banana imports into the UK; dealing with the increased competition on EU27 markets as a result of the application of banana sector TRQs under bilaterally negotiated EU FTAs. While to date overall ACP banana exporters have expanded their exports to the EU28 despite expanded TRQ access for $ banana suppliers, the situation varies greatly between different ACP exporters. With Caribbean small island banana exporters largely being squeezed out of EU markets since 2007. However, the past strong trade performance of some ACP banana exporters since 2007 is no guarantee of future competitiveness. Market adjustment support may be required to ACP producers and exporters in adjusting to the market consequences of Brexit in the banana sector. The EC will also need to take account of the impact of expanded TRQ access on ACP banana suppliers in its application of the stabilisation mechanism set in place to protect EU banana producers. Read more “ACP banana exporters and Brexit”

Footloose nature of EU poultry meat exports to Africa highlighted by AI restrictions

While AI outbreaks are expected to reduce EU poultry exports in 2017, there is no evidence of this in the first two months of 2017, with strong growth in EU exports to sub-Saharan African markets north of South Africa. Recent corporate takeovers in the poultry sector could lead to a strengthening of the focus on sub-Saharan African markets. Recent trends highlight the ‘footloose’ nature of EU poultry meat exports, with markets being sought where minimal import controls are applied. Read more “Footloose nature of EU poultry meat exports to Africa highlighted by AI restrictions”

EU Delegate makes case for Nigerian signature of West African EPA

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”

Gambia Withdraws Import Ban on Onions and Potatoes


The government of Gambia has lifted a ban on imports of onions and potatoes, with female onion producers criticising the move and calling for seasonal restrictions and greater support for local producers. Experience in Senegal suggests there may be a role for seasonal restrictions in stimulating investment in local production. Experience in Namibia meanwhile highlights how successful the use of trade policy measures can be in stimulating local production, if the necessary infrastructure, organisational and administrative capacities are already in place. Read more “Gambia Withdraws Import Ban on Onions and Potatoes”

Nigerian government adopts trade measures against tomato imports

The Nigerian government has announced new trade measures in support of the local tomato sector. However such measures would be likely to fall foul of the provisions of the EU-West Africa economic partnership agreement related to tariff standstill commitments and the ‘prohibition of quantitative restrictions’. Beyond these EPA related policy complications, trade policy tools can only be effective in supporting agricultural development if they are deployed as an integral part of wider government programmes aimed at comprehensively addressing infrastructural, policy and logistical constraints on the efficient functioning of local agri-food sector supply chains.
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