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

Summary

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.

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

EU Farmers Continue Campaign for Stricter EU Citrus Black Spot Controls

Summary

EU farmers organizations continue to push for stricter SPS controls on citrus imports including the mandatory use of cold treatment. The South African citrus industry believes such a requirement would be an economic disaster for the industry. In the context of the Spanish citrus industry’s pressure for stricter EU SPS controls, the UK’s departure from the EU could offer a life line for the South African citrus industry. If SPS controls not relevant to UK agricultural production were lifted and duty free-quota free access to the UK market could be secured in line with the South African government’s current aspirations for post-Brexit trade relations with the UK, then less restrictive market access requirements would apply potentially opening up additional export opportunities to the UK market. Read more “EU Farmers Continue Campaign for Stricter EU Citrus Black Spot Controls”

Canadian dairy TRQ administration replicates earlier EC practices to consternation of EU Exporters

Summary

EU dairy exporters have complained Canada’s system for the allocation of the CETA cheese TRQ unfairly favours local manufacturers. The EU makes use of similar yet even more severe arrangements for TRQ administration in sensitive sectors, with under the EU-South Africa TDCA import licences being allocated only to ‘approved undertakings’ (EU dairy companies) on food safety grounds.  Important lessons in regard to how to ensure TRQ regulated imports under recently concluded EPAs do not undermine local producers can be learned from EU practices with regard to TRQ administration. These lessons could prove useful in ensuring that expanded imports from the EU in sensitive sectors do not undermine local agro-food sector development. Read more “Canadian dairy TRQ administration replicates earlier EC practices to consternation of EU Exporters”

Proposed EC Regulatory Initiative on UTPs Needs to be Extended to ACP-EU Supply Chains

Summary

The EC is currently undertaking consultations on new proposals to reduce unfair trading practices (UTPs), to which farmers are seen as being particularly vulnerable. UTPs are seen as stifling innovation and undermining on-farm investment through reducing the commercial viability of farming activities. The envisaged regulations aim to ensure a fairer distribution of value along agricultural supply chains, and increase both farm incomes and on-farm investment.

There is an urgent need to extend EU regulations on UTPs to ACP-EU supply chains since in some major sectors abuses of the weak market position of smallholder producers are endemic. Investments in poverty focused export orientated smallholder production will be undermined unless issues of UTPs along ACP-EU supply chains are addressed. Read more “Proposed EC Regulatory Initiative on UTPs Needs to be Extended to ACP-EU Supply Chains”

Report highlights vulnerability of EU poultry sector to liberalisation of trade in poultry meat

 

 

Summary

A January 2017 report on the relative competitiveness of the EU poultry sector highlights the importance of continued tariff protection and managed trade (using TRQ access) to the future of the EU poultry sector.  This EU policy practice contrasts markedly with EU policy advocacy in its dealings with ACP countries. Without trade protection competitive third country poultry producers would gain a strongly competitive position in the EU market, exporting far higher volumes of poultry meat to the EU. However, EU tariff protection cannot be justified on the basis of higher EU standards, which are small relative to the differences in price competitiveness between EU and major third country poultry exporters. Read more “Report highlights vulnerability of EU poultry sector to liberalisation of trade in poultry meat”

EU plans to invest in agriculture in Africa to curb migration pressured need to address UTPs in Africa-EU agro-food sector supply chains

Summary

EU Agricultural Commissioner Hogan has called for investment to be mobilised in sustainable agro-food sector development in Africa to combat migration pressures. While an EU action plan is under development in this area, calls have been made for the EU to extend its planned regulatory initiative on Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) to Africa-EU supply chains. Current widespread abusive practices by EU importers fall particularly heavily on smallholder farmers. Given its economic significance, this is an issue which the ACP Group could usefully take up in its post-Cotonou negotiations with the EU as part of the wider dialogue with the EU on migration issues. Read more “EU plans to invest in agriculture in Africa to curb migration pressured need to address UTPs in Africa-EU agro-food sector supply chains”

CBS controls remain threat to South Africa citrus exports to EU despite recent expansion

Summary
Contrary to EU delegation claims, South African citrus exports to the EU have not tripled since 2007.  Export volumes since 2012 have in fact been 6.2% below the recent peak level attained in 2008. This is in part attributable to stricter EU CBS controls which have fallen particularly heavily on emergent and previously disadvantaged farmers, who find themselves commercially excluded from EU market supply chains. On-going campaigning by Spanish citrus growers for stricter CBS controls remains a threat to South African citrus exports, particularly given the burden the existing control measures place on government plant disease control capacities.

The issue of the differential impact which EU SPS controls have on small emergent commercial farmers and large commercial farmers raises the need to improve the design and application of EU SPS controls so as to support smallholder participation in high value export supply chains whilst still ensuring underlying EU SPS controls objectives are attained. Read more “CBS controls remain threat to South Africa citrus exports to EU despite recent expansion”

Implications of UK proposals for future customs arrangements in trade with the EU27 for ACP countries

Summary

UK proposals for future customs arrangements with the EU seek to subvert the sequencing of negotiations laid in the EU Council instructions to the European Commission for the conduct of the Brexit negotiations. The UK proposals have been criticized as ‘a fantasy’ in some political quarters of the EU. The proposals nevertheless include elements which could be built on in protecting ACP interests within the Brexit process. The UK’s reiteration of assurances of continuity in access to the UK market for ACP exporters leaves unaddressed how this is to be achieved. The UK’s ambitious aspirations for trade agreements with non-EU countries encompassing services, digital trade and trade in goods, suggest concluding such agreements could be a lengthy process. This highlights the need for transitional arrangements to ensure continuity of ACP access to the UK market under current terms and conditions from day 1 of the UK’s formal departure from the EU. Read more “Implications of UK proposals for future customs arrangements in trade with the EU27 for ACP countries”

Hard Brexit Could Severely Disrupt EU27-UK Agro-Food Sector Trade

Summary

While the EU has been urged to ‘take a more active role in trying to shape a Brexit outcome that is least damaging to its interests’, the ACP Group needs to ensure this approach is extended to the EU’s traditional developing country partners such as the ACP Group.  It is becoming increasingly apparent that for major ACP agro-food export product groups, Brexit could have a major impact on the functioning of existing ACP supply chains currently serving the EU28 market.  This needs to be fully assessed so that as the Brexit negotiations develop the key priorities for administrative and regulatory initiatives and marketing adjustment support are identified.    Read more “Hard Brexit Could Severely Disrupt EU27-UK Agro-Food Sector Trade”

Agro-Food Sector Effects of the Application of MFN Duties on EU27-UK Trade: An Area of Potential ACP Concern and Opportunity

 

Summary

If MFN duties are introduced on EU27-UK trade as a result of a failure to reach a new trade agreement this could disrupt existing ACP supply chains. However such a development could also present opportunities for ACP countries to expand their direct exports of value added products to the UK in sectors such as the cocoa sector.  Marketing adjustment and investment support however could be needed to enable ACP exporters to respond positively to the challenges which lie ahead. Read more “Agro-Food Sector Effects of the Application of MFN Duties on EU27-UK Trade: An Area of Potential ACP Concern and Opportunity”