Tag Archives: trade

WTO: U.S. refuses Nigerian candidate for top job

The leadership race for the World Trade Organization has been thrown into disarray after the United States opposed the appointment of former Nigerian finance and Foreign affairs minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, whose candidacy has been also supported by the European Union. The American delegation has not explained the reasons of the refusal.

Following discussions among EU leaders during their summit in Brussels last week, the bloc agreed to back the Nigerian Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala after a period of reflection, caused by a number of member-states opinion to give preference to the South Korean candidate Yoo Myung-hee for the job of the next director-general of the WTO.  Ambassadors from the EU’s 27 member states confirmed on Monday, October 26, that the bloc would support the African candidate Dr.Okonjo-Iweala.

The WTO’s decision-making process is based on consensus, and either candidate will need to win the blessing of all 164 members.

#EUCO: Africa high on agenda

The European Council taking place in Brussels on October 15-16 will also discuss EU-Africa relations. At present the EU and the African countries and cooperate through multiple frameworks such as:
the Cotonou agreement; the joint Africa-EU strategy; and in addition to these frameworks, the Council has adopted three regional strategies for the: Horn of Africa; Gulf of Guinea; and Sahel.
Africa-EU relations also take place through formal dialogues, such as the EU-Africa summits.

At present the centre of attention of the EU leaders will be focused on the post-Cotonou agreement is the overarching framework for EU relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. It covers the EU’s relations with 79 countries, including 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The #EUCO will discuss, among other things, resetting & deepening the EU- Africa Partnership” Commissioner in charge of international partnerships Jutta Urpilainen wrote on her Twitter micro blog. “We need to invest in the infrastructures and digitalisation – and in education, which, of course, is the key if we want to increase the employment rate.”

Flèche vers la droite”We need to invest in the infrastructures & digitalisation – and in education, which, of course, is the key if we want to increase the employment rate.”

The joint Africa-EU strategy was adopted in 2007 as the formal channel for EU relations with African countries. This strategy was agreed by the African Union and EU institutions, as well as by African and EU countries. It is implemented through periodical action plans. In 2014, EU and African countries agreed on the roadmap for 2014-2017. This roadmap sets out five key priorities and areas for joint action.

Libya: speaker Aguila Saleh rise

Brussels 03.10.2020 Libya’s oil output has risen to 270,000 bpd as the OPEC member ramps up export activity following the easing of a blockade by eastern part of the country.
On October 1 Libya’s oil terminals at Hariga, Brega, and Zueitina were open for business and welcoming tankers to ship oil, although the biggest port and the terminal typically exporting crude from the largest oilfield in the country was still under strain.

The North African nation’s National Oil Corp said it expects production to rise to around 260,000 barrels per day, or bpd, by next week, up from some 100,000 bpd before the blockade of its oil ports and oilfields lifted by Haftar’s forces at the end of last week.

Total Libyan production could reach 550,000 bpd by the end of the year and nearly a million bpd by mid-2021. All that for a country that did not export a single barrel from January due to the civil war forced by Haftar. At its peak in 2008, Libya produced nearly 1.8 million bpd.

The shifting market dynamics could force OPEC back to the drawing board, to figure out what to do with all that unexpected new supply.

Emboldened by the steady price action of the past four months, OPEC decided to roll back its cuts by two million bpd from this month, taking a gamble that the market won’t crash, as economies continue to recover from the worst of the COVID-19 disruption. AbS’ warning to oil giants that they’ll be “ouching like hell” if they try to short the market was part of a calculated campaign to defend prices.

In the complex international economic context, and Libya ongoing political crisis, the Tobruk House of Representative (HoR) Speaker, Aguila Saleh, is expected to play a major role in state-building during the coming period, amid hopes of a political settlement to the long-time crisis in the country. Moreover might play a key role in concluding new trade agreements for oil exports, preventing overproduction, and subsequent turmoil for the oil markets.

Saleh has cemented his reputation as a political heavy-weight demonstrating openness to resolve the ongoing crisis in Libya. For the international community his rise will embody the transfer of political powers in Cyrenaica from military – Marshall Khalifa Haftar leading the Libyan National Army – to civilians. The increasing influence of the role of Saleh has reflected in the decision of the European Union Council to lift the individual sanction, allowing him to travel freely.

“The Council today decided to remove Aguila Saleh, speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, and Nuri Abu Sahmain, former president of the internationally unrecognised General National Congress of Libya, from the list of individuals and entities subject to restrictive measures in relation to the Libyan conflict.

“The two leading political figures had been subject to EU restrictive measures – a travel ban and an asset freeze – since 2016. The delisting of Speaker Saleh was agreed in light of his recent constructive engagement in support of a negotiated political solution to the Libyan crisis. The Council will continue to follow his behaviour closely, notably in relation to his support for the Berlin Process and for the efforts of the UN mission to Libya (UNSMIL). The delisting of Abu Sahmain was agreed based on the overall absence of any recent role in the Libyan political process.

“The EU welcomed the announcements made on 21 August by the president of the Presidency Council, Fayez al-Sarraj, and the speaker of the House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, which accelerated promising developments in Libya and created a window of opportunity to move the Libyan transition forward towards completion through a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process.

“Today’s decision underlines the strategic use of the EU’s sanctions regime, following developments on the ground. Restrictive measures are intended to bring about a change in policy or activity by entities and individuals responsible for malign behaviour, and are of a proportionate, targeted and non-punitive nature. De-listing is appropriate wherever the criteria for listing are no longer met, as was the case here.

“The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons and entities concerned, have been published in the Official Journal”.

EU: Post-Cotonou informal discussion

Brussels 29.09.2020 The African Union – European Union partnership, post-Cotonou agreement were on the top of the agenda of the informal meeting of EU Development Ministers the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has chaired today.

Within the framework of the German EU Council Presidency, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller, together with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, hosted an informal meeting of EU Development Ministers. One important issue for discussion was be the EU’s future relations with Africa. The meeting has also served as basis in preparation of the Formal Meeting of EU Development Ministers in November. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting took place virtually via tele-conference.

Kenyan aims at WTO top job

Kenya’s candidate to become the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation pledged on September 23 to integrate climate change issues into the WTO agenda if selected.

“Honoured to be selected to advance to the next round in the selection process to appoint the next WT Director General! I would like to thank all the WTO Members who entrusted me with their support. I will continue to engage with Members ahead of the next rounds” Ms.Mohamed wrote on her micro blog Twitter.

Amina Mohamed, who is the Kenya’s sports minister, progressed to the second round of selection to become the next director-general of the WTO, along with four other candidates, on September 25.

“How is it possible that the WTO does not discuss climate change?… WTO must be a part of the global conversation on climate change,” Ms.Mohamed said to an online media briefing from Geneva.

Mohamed, who was involved in the development of green financial instruments when she was the deputy head of the U.N. agency for the environment (UNEP), said she would make the WTO’s trade and environment committee active.

EU-AU diplomats update Post-cotonou

Brussels 21.09.2020 “Our ambition is clear: we want a stronger EU-Africa partnership. At informal development ministers meeting next week, we will continue our discussions on how to further step up our relations” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, concluding the Council of the bloc foreign ministers.

The EU diplomats exchanged views on the EU relations with its African Union counterparts, and ways to step up relations with Africa in the medium and long term both from a political and an economic point of view.

Ministers agreed to develop joint strategic priorities in order to pave the way for cooperation in the next decade, and to focus on tangible results, in the spirit of the “Team Europe” approach.

In this context the Council was also updated on the state of play of the post-Cotonou negotiations.

Botswana dimond trade plunges

Botswana’s rough diamond exports plunged 68% in the second quarter of the year, data published by the central bank showed on August 7, as the COVID-19 pandemic affected demand, and trade.

In a bid to curb the spread of the virus, Botswana closed its borders in March following the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, preventing the international buyers from travelling to centres such as Mumbai, Antwerp and China who traditionally arrive to Gaborone ten times a year to buy diamonds.

Exports of diamonds from Debswana, a joint venture between Botswana and diamond mining giant De Beers, a unit of Anglo American, stood at $293 million in the second quarter of 2020, from $916 million in the preceding period.

China trade in donkey hides devastates communities

Describing the scale of the animal abuse in Chinese trade in donkey hides and its devastating impact for local communities in developing countries, especially in Africa, the Members of the European Parliament called for an urgency of action to protect the equidae as an indefensible contributor to harmonious rural lifestyle.

During the European Parliament Strasbourg Plenary MEPs of the EU Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals considered the welfare of equines – horses, donkeys and hybrids, largely neglected within the existing laws and suffering abuses in Europe, however it is the Chinese traditional medicine, which causes the most abhorrent practices, with systemic torturing and killing of donkeys in pursue of their precious hides. Some farms in Europe also act as suppliers of donkey hides for China, however their activities are far too small to cover the huge demand of Chinese traditional medicine, looking for the animals all over the world, including the poorest villages in Africa, where people depend on donkeys for transport of water and goods.

Chaired by Jacqueline Foster MEP (ECR, UK),  the hearing featured speakers from World Horse Welfare, The Donkey Sanctuary and BrookeAction for Working Horses and Donkeys shared the numerous problems of equines welfare in the EU and worldwide, especially abhorrent abuses of donkeys in Chinese trade.

The Intergroup focused on the trade of donkey hides and the social, economic, and welfare problems that it raises. Ian Arthur Cawsey, UN Ambassador at The Donkey Sanctuary, explained the threat this trade represents, causing a global crisis for donkeys welfare, and even more so for people who depend on them.

During the last decades, China has seen the demand for donkey skins explode to produce ‘ejiao’, a substance used in traditional medicine, health and beauty products. Currently, the Chinese demand is assessed around 4 million donkey skins a year. As the result the global trade in animals increases, and donkeys are being traded and stolen all around the world.

However, these animals support the livelihood of 500 million people across the world and some of the world’s poorest communities. When donkeys are sold or stolen, the additional burden of taking on their work often falls on the most vulnerable members of the society: children and women. “If you have no donkey, you are a donkey yourself“, explains the Ethiopian proverb, hinting on animal key function in fulfilling daily hard work.

Since the skin is valued so much more than the meat, the premature death of the donkeys from deprivation of food and water is actually considered  by Chinese traders as ‘helpful’. The cruel practices also raise serious concerns for public health and the environment, while the growing Chinese demand for donkey skins clearly will never lead to regulated, humane or sustainable production practices.

Petra Ingram, Chief Executive Officer of the Brooke – Action for Working Horses and Donkeys, and Dr. Jennifer Wathan, Senior Manager, gave a presentation on the local impact of the trade in donkey hides on livelihoods in Africa, advocating to think global and act local. A donkey is a valuable asset that provides multiple essential functions to a household. The growing Chinese trade of donkey skins therefore deeply impacts poorest communities in Africa.

Donkeys provide a huge contribution in developing countries all over the world. For example, every day a donkey earns users and owners in Kenya between $5-12, doing tasks such as collecting water, carrying goods to market or in farming. Loss of a donkey not only results in that income being jeopardised, but also increases the burden on families to carry out manual work themselves. Our research shows that vulnerable people are particularly affected, especially women and the elderly who use their donkeys for daily chores and transportation. This can even keep children out of school” Petra Ingram said.

“We hope that highlighting this issue to the MEPs who attended or observed online today will prompt more research, and ultimately bring us closer to tackling the devastating effects of an unregulated trade in donkey hides. Brooke has made some progress, but this is a global crisis, too large for us and other charities to tackle in isolation, so we must work together to raise awareness and gather more evidence to support positive change for the donkeys and the people who depend on them,” Ingram concluded.

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South Africa advances exports of lion’s skeletons

The export of lion skeletons is fuelling the business of these criminal enterprises and South Africa should be held to account for encouraging them, conservationists say. The issue came to public attention after the decision of South Africa officials to double quota of exports of skeletons of lions in captivity.

Dr Paul Funston, the senior director of the lion programme at Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organisation, believes South Africa’s contentious lion bone trade came to a point to start endangering the continent’s dwindling wild lion populations.

I can’t understand why the government is being so stupid and ignorant by making decisions and supporting an industry that is clearly not supported by the world one that is having a massive knock-on effect on the poaching of wild lions in other African countries” – Funston said.

Funston was reacting to the announcement this week by Environment Minister Edna Molewa that she had approved an annual export quota of 1500 captive-bred lion skeletons – nearly doubling last year’s 800-skeleton quota.

What we’re seeing now in many other African countries is that they poach the lions and just cut the face and feet off for the teeth and claws as trinkets,”  the conservationists regrets. Conservation organisations like Panthera have maintained there is significant evidence that South Africa’s legal trade in lion bones is accelerating the massacre of wild lions for their parts in neighbouring countries and increasing demand for wild lion parts in Asia, where they are used as a substitute for tiger bone wine and other products.

Hungary expects post-Cotonou reflects reality on illegal migration

Hungary is “absolutely interested” in negotiation of a new post-Cotonou agreement insured Péter Szijjártó, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, however it has also some expectations concerning the Migration Chapter of the agreement, namely reflecting reality on illegal mass migration. The mandate to the European Commission negotiators led by Neven Mimica can be given by the Hungarian government as soon as the three following issues are included: in general the migration chapter should meet the realities; the acknowledgment of  illegal migration as security threat to Europe; the stopping of illegal migration must be a goal.

We see that there is a chance to agree on this three points” –  Szijjártó continued, underlining that the negotiations with the Commission has lasted for some weeks, and there is no objections from the behalf of Mimica. The minister also underlined that both Balkans and Mediterranean routes for trafficking illegal migrants are active, representing security problems to be urgently addressed.

At the margins of the European foreign affairs Council Péter Szijjártó met with Brussels press-corps, sharing the position of the Hungarian government on the range of issues of international agenda, not the least  the mandate to negotiate the post-Cotonou agreement to European Commission Neven Mimica.

Today in Brussels the Foreign Affairs Council is expected to discuss the negotiating mandate for the future agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) 79 countries. The current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, also known as the Cotonou Agreement, will expire in February 2020.

The Cotonou Agreement is the overarching framework for EU relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. It was adopted in 2000 to replace the 1975 Lomé Convention.

It is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU, covering the EU’s relations with 79 countries, including 48 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Foreign ministers had an initial discussion during January’s Foreign Affairs Council. Development ministers had a discussion on 22 May 2018.