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EU strikes comprehensive trade deal with East African Community

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africaOn 16 October, negotiators from the EU and the East African Community (EAC) finalized a new comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between both regions.

The agreement will provide legal certainty for businesses and open a long-term perspective for free and unlimited access to the EU market for products from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

"The East African Community region stands out for its dynamism, and ambition to develop as an integrated region. The comprehensive partnership agreement we have just reached is the best way in which we can support EAC's aspirations," said Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. "We have concluded two other development-oriented partnerships with African regions this year. It's a source of my personal satisfaction also to see East Africa benefiting from the opportunities that Europe wants to offer. I hope that these EPAs will be signed and implemented soon."

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The new comprehensive EPA lays the new and stable grounds for EU-EAC trade relations. East African Community countries will now be able to focus on improving their economic performance without worrying about the potential loss of full duty-free quota-free access to the European market due to their improving status. All EAC members, least developed or more advanced, will benefit from the same predictable and uniform trade scheme.

To comply with the rules of the World Trade Organization, the EAC countries committed to increase the share of their duty-free imports to 80% over the coming 15 years. As EAC customs union tariffs on imports are already low, absorbing the EPA is a feasible endeavour. Also, when EAC countries will be ready to grant more far-reaching concessions to the Europe's main competitors, the EU will be able to claim those same improvements. The EU and EAC have also reached a balanced outcome on export taxes.

Beyond the elimination of customs duties, the agreement covers important issues, such as free movement of goods, cooperation on customs and taxation, and trade defence instruments, which mirror the effort of the EAC to strengthen its customs union and to set up an effective internal market. This is the EU's most tangible contribution to support the regional objectives of the EAC.

The agreement, initialled today by all negotiators, is now going to be presented for approval according to the domestic procedures of each partner.

Background

The Eastern African Community (EAC) consists of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. All EAC members, with the exception of Kenya, are least developed countries according to the UN classification. The current development prospects indicate however they may be successful in leaving this group in a relatively near future.

The geographically and economically homogeneous group is strongly committed to regional integration, with an ultimate goal of becoming a federation. The EAC established a common external tariff in 2005, removed customs duties in intra-regional trade, ratified a common market protocol as of 2010 and most recently took steps towards achievement of a far-reaching monetary union.

In 2007, the East African Community finalized a framework agreement on tariff elimination, which became a basis for the comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, initialled on 16 October.

In 2013, total trade between the EU and the East African Community amounted to €5.8 billion. The EU imports from the EAC are worth €2.2 billion and consist mostly of coffee, cut flowers, tea, tobacco, fish and vegetables. Exports from the EU into the EAC, mainly machinery and mechanical appliances, equipment and parts, vehicles and pharmaceutical products, amount to €3.5bn.

More information
EU relations with Eastern African Community
Economic Partnership Agreements

Libya

A Documentary about Libya: Another Bogus Story?

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The British state broadcaster and news agency BBC sent an inquiry to the Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin (pictured) with announcement of its intention to make a documentary about the fate of Libyan citizens. The description of the project states that the film will feature serious human rights violations which were allegedly documented during the fighting in the Tripoli`s vicinity.

The BBC editors wanted to find out from Prigozhin what role Russians play in the life of the North African country. Representatives of the British state media noted that they would probably refer to Prigozhin`s comment in their research.

The press service of the Concord Catering company, headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, published the entrepreneur`s response.

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He reminded foreign journalists that the US authorities plunged the North African republic into civil war when they killed Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and filled the country with extremists and terrorists. The latter are even integrated into the power structures of Libya. Moscow, unlike Washington, helps residents of other countries, according to the businessman.

Prigozhin also suggested that BBC staff should ask for comments from the Russian Anti-Repression Foundation if this media wants to learn more about human rights violations by Washington and its allies.

“I have not heard anything about the violation of human rights in Libya by the Russians and I am sure that this is an absolute lie. But if you want a detailed list of such violations by the United States and its allies around the world, then I recommend that you contact the Anti-Repression Foundation for more detailed comments. Or Maksim Shugaley who was thrown into the Mitiga prison in Libya without trial or investigation, where he survived deprivation and torture and who knows more than anyone else about the violation of human rights in this country. My advice to you is to operate with facts, not your Russophobic sentiments,” the businessman told the BBC journalists.

According to the press office of the Concord Catering, the company has repeatedly published explanations on a number of submitted issues. In particular, they reported that Yevgeny Prigozhin has nothing to do with those Russian citizens who were allegedly participating in hostilities on the territory of Libya. Among the unfounded accusations, there is also an allegation that the Russian businessman is connected to the Euro-Polis LLC, which, according to rumors, is a company supplying military equipment to Libya. The press office denies all allegations related to connection of Prigozhin with the Libyan conflict stating that catering and the supply of arms are unrelated businesses.

The press service of Concord Catering also mentioned that the BBC is not the first media which sends the same type of questions. Many other international media holdings have been engaged in the replication of rumors.

It is noteworthy that earlier the British Independent Press Standards Organization upheld a complaint by Prigozhin`s against the Daily Telegraph for spreading false information about the situation in Libya.

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Africa

EU and Republic of Kenya launch strategic dialogue and engage towards implementing the East African Community Economic Partnership Agreement

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The European Commission has welcomed the launch of the Strategic Dialogue between the European Union and the Republic of Kenya, and the strengthening of multilateral partnership between EU and the East African Community (EAC) region. In the context of the visit of president of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, Executive Vice President and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis met Adan Mohamed, cabinet secretary for East African Community and regional development. Both sides agreed to engage towards implementing bilaterally the trade and the economic and development cooperation provisions of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the East African Community.

Executive Vice President Dombrovskis (pictured) said: “I welcome Kenya's efforts and leadership in the region. It is one of EU's most important trade partners in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Chair of the East Africa Community. The recent decision of the EAC Summit allows EAC members to implement the regional EPA bilaterally with the EU, based on a principle of ‘variable geometry'. The EU will now engage with Kenya - which has already signed and ratified the regional EPA - on the modalities towards its implementation. The EPA is an important trade and development tool and its implementation with Kenya would be a building block towards regional economic integration. We encourage other members of the East African Community to sign and ratify the EPA.”

International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen, who exchanged with Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo added: “I welcome the new impetus to the EU-Kenya bilateral relationship with agreement on the launch of the strategic dialogue together with a renewed engagement with the East African Community. This will create a dialogue focusing on common policy aims and real benefits for all involved. We will immediately begin work on a roadmap to implement the strategic dialogue. We are committed to accompany the country's ambitious green transition, job creation and digitalisation efforts. In addition, investing in People, in education or health, will be paramount to build resilience and help tackle COVID-19 challenges and we are working intensively on Team Europe initiatives to support small and medium enterprises and pharmaceutical industries in Africa to complement the efforts at country level.”

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More information is available in the press release.

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Africa

Africa and Europe discuss investment to dismantle false choice between conservation and development at European Development Days 2021

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The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) convened a discussion on African Landscapes for People and Wildlife: Dismantling the false choice between conservation and development on Wednesday 16 June 2021 at 15h10 CET as part of the European Development Days 2021.

The discussion explored how the services that ecological systems provide underpin human existence, political stability, and economic prosperity, particularly in Africa. And how investing in Africa as if conservation and development are competing objectives will lead to the continued loss of species and habitat degradation. In terms of solutions, the session focused on the role Africa leaders play in shaping a more sustainable path by investing in wildlife economies that incentivise conservation and restoration while providing for people and the importance of mobilizing into conservation and ensuring funding gets to where it is needed but also how the green deal will reshape how Europe invests in African landscapes. The discussion made a clear case for smarter, greener investments in Africa’s landscapes.

Speaking after the session, Frederick Kumah, Vice President External Affairs at AWF said: “I am glad that the session explored the role African leaders need to play in shaping a more sustainable path by investing in wildlife economies that incentivize conservation and restoration while providing for people.”

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Ecotrust Pauline Executive Director Natongo Kalunda, panellist at the discussion, explained: “There is not enough effort in global consumption to understand that nature is an asset and that investments must be made to protect it and support growth….Sustainability relies on these landscapes and if investors do not understand that, then it will be impossible to reach sustainability targets.”

This timely debate featured panel speakers from the two continents Simon Malete, Lead of the African Group of Negotiators to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Pauline Nantongo Kalunda, Executive Director of Ecotrust and Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Member of the European Parliament. The session was moderated by Simangele Msweli, Senior Manager of the AWF’s Youth Leadership Program.

About African Wildlife Foundation

The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa’s conservation needs, we articulate a uniquely African vision, bridge science and public policy, and demonstrate the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent’s wildlife and wild lands.

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