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Trade between Europe and Africa: how to resuscitate an ailing deal

The Guardian

By Isabelle Ramdoo

Thursday, Feb. 28th, 2013

After 10 years of negotiations, how can policymakers on both sides revive a flagging relationship?

Trade negotiations between Europe and Africa seem to have stalled. Despite both sides last year celebrating the 10th anniversary of the start of negotiations over economic partnership agreements (EPAs), their attention now appears to have shifted elsewhere.

In crisis-ridden Europe, leaders are stressing the important contribution of trade to jobs and growth for economic recovery in Europe, as they did during the last European council in early February. They call for ambitious, proactive and constructive trade engagements with their “strategic partners”. But, interestingly, these partners are located on the other side of the Atlantic and in emerging Asian economies, as a letter by José Manuel Barroso, president of the European commission to Herman Van Rompuy, president of the council, highlights.

In his address to the commission, Barroso made no mention of Africa or the controversial EPAs, which haven’t been finalised by many, despite 10 long and difficult years of negotiations. And it’s no surprise why: the negotiations have been disappointing. Of the 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries negotiating with the EU, only 36 finalised an agreement, of which only 18 are in Africa.

Signals from Africa have not been much better: the continent is increasingly turning east and south, towards emerging markets, and is giving less attention to Europe. Although a few countries remained truly committed to an ambitious trade relationship with Europe, the lastAfrican Union summit, held in January, made no mention of EU-Africa trade. Instead, it focused on Africa’s own domestic economic dynamics, prioritising deeper regional economic integration and increased intra-Africa trade – a logical step and one which Europe itself has followed since the 1950s.

Given the political lethargy, the eurozone crisis that legitimises inward-facing economic politics and new dynamics in Africa, should we conclude that the trade relationship between Europe and Africa is dead? No. Despite all this, there are reasons and ways to resuscitate an ailing trade deal.

The reasons are that both regions remain important to each other: Europe is still the main trade, development and investment partner of most African countries. And despite its relatively low volume of trade with the EU, Africa is nevertheless a crucial source of hard and soft commodities for Europe, and in particular of strategic metals and minerals, essential for its high-tech and green-tech industries. Furthermore, the recent new discoveries of hydrocarbons are of crucial geo-strategic importance – they represent an important alternative, given the difficult political situation in the Middle East, notably with Iran. By keeping trade talks locked in the EPA debates, Europe might accentuate resentments in Africa and therefore miss out on the emerging opportunities. Continued game playing would clearly be counter-productive for both sides.

Develop a partnership of equals

What is needed is a more mature relationship, one that is based on understanding the changing dynamics of both partners and on a real partnership of equals. Europe and Africa have to be clear on their agenda, define their expectations and priorities according to agreed values, principles and interests. The shifting international balance of power places Africa in a better position to revive its partnerships to make them more effective – the challenge will be to translate the new vision into action.

On its side, Europe’s diminishing political clout in Africa implies that it needs to rethink its strategy to become a smarter partner and its engagement with developing countries in Asia or Latin America is proof that Europe can cut its coat according to its cloth. Relationships with Asia and Latin America are more business-like in nature and reflect the priorities and ambitions of each partner. The EU–Latin America and the Caribbean summit, held in January, focused on alliance for sustainable development to promote investment of social and environmental quality. In Asia, the focus is clearly on strategic economic partnerships, with specific relationships nurtured with ChinaIndiaJapan and South Korea.

Clear, consistent communications are key

Both partners have to learn to listen to each other and avoid mixed signals and conflicting incentives. Currently, Europe does not have a coherent agenda for Africa: it has different and multispeed approaches to North AfricaSouth Africa and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. Even towards the last segment, it has different policies as the recent desire tofocus engagement on least developed countries underlines.

Appreciate regional differences

In addition, the limited success of the EPAs should teach policymakers that insisting on comprehensive trade agreements with countries that have different expectations simply does not work. Agreements should instead reflect the real interests and capacity of countries. Botswana is not Guinea. European wonks should be careful in their engagement with North Africa so that political conditionalities do not ultimately backfire on the EU’s relationship with the whole region.

Timing is everything

The moment for change is opportune. The African Union has a new chairperson who has taken up the challenge to lift the continent into a new prosperous era. Beyond gathering her troops to deliver the “African renaissance”, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will have to reboot the collaboration with international partners. The challenge for her will be to balance Africa’s geo-strategic interests to get the most of all partners. For Europe, the challenge will be to plug into the new dynamics and remain relevant. But both sides need to think of a revived partnership that goes beyond trade and effectively support Africa’s structural transformation. It is the harder ask but one that will lead to the most sustainable mutual gains, and is something worth considering at theupcoming EU-Africa Summit, scheduled for the first half of 2014.

Isabelle Ramdoo is the trade and economic governance policy officer at the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM). Follow her on Twitter: @ir_ramdoo

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional.

Canada’s military hunting for seven new foreign bases

By Allan Woods

June 5th, 2012

OTTAWA—The military is hunting for seven strategically placed nations willing to host a network of Canadian bases aimed at cutting costs and boosting response times to future wars, disasters and humanitarian crises.

Two of those bases — in Germany and Kuwait — have already materialized, but the full extent of the plan to create overseas beachheads for military planes, ships and equipment has not been previously acknowledged.

Defence officials and diplomats, armed with a $500,000 budget, are now working to finalize agreements with governments in some of the most volatile parts of the world.

When the collection of operational support hubs is complete, Canada’s military will also have a permanent footprint in the Latin America and Caribbean region, on both sides of the African continent, in the swath of countries marked by the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as in Southeast Asia.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said last week that Canada is actively seeking a deal to set up one of those hubs in Singapore.

The bases will form dots along the line of what military planners refer to as the Arc of Instability— the parts of the world where future conflicts are deemed most likely to occur…Read more.

Harris Wins US Marine Contract

By  Zacks Equity Research

March 16, 2012

Communication technology company Harris Corp. (HRS) received a contract worth $64 million from the U.S Marine Corps. Per the contract, Harris will deliver Falcon III AN/PRC-117G multiband manpack radios, vehicular amplifier adapters, antennas and field support.

The AN/PRC-117G belongs to the Falcon III wideband radio suite that provides precise knowledge of the battlefield environment. The AN/PRC-117G can be upgraded further and enables high-performance voice as well as high-bandwidth data communication. The radio supports new generation combat applications such as streaming video, collaborative chat and other applications.

Procurement of these devices by the U.S. Marine force will enhance their service quality and help them provide improved network support, which in turn will help them to complete the mission successfully.

Apart from catering to the demand of the U.S. government, Harris is also expanding its international presence by supplying its technology to emerging economies like Brazil, Russia, India and China together with Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Africa regions. Currently, the company has a sustainable and diversified product pipeline with a potential market size of $15 billion.

As a leading government electronics supplier, Harris is benefiting from strong international market conditions. In fact, the emerging economies like Brazil, Russia, India, and China together with Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Africa regions paved the way for the company’s long-term growth.

In the last quarter, Harris generated new orders worth $183 million in the Tactical Radio Communications business. The company ended the second quarter of fiscal 2012 with a total order backlog of $581 million. During the ongoing quarter, the company has already generated orders worth $400 million in the Tactical Radio Communications segment, which includes a massive deal signed by the Australian Department of Defense.

Despite winning consistent contracts coupled with huge order backlog the company remains exposed to stiff competition from companies like Boeing Co. (BA), General Dynamics Corp. (GD) and Raytheon Co. (RTN), which also provide high-end public safety communication systems.

Currently, Harris Corporation has a Zacks #3 Rank, implying a short-term Hold rating on the stock.

Harris Corporation, based in Melbourne, Florida, remains one of the leaders in the public safety and professional communication market and boasts products ranging from industry leading multi-band, multi-mode radios, public safety-grade broadband voice, video and data solutions.

Gambia: Fertilizer Commission Begins Sittings Two Ex-Agric PS’ Testify

Location map of the Gambia
Image via Wikipedia

By Sidiq Asemota and Sanna Jawara

October  17, 2011

The Commission of Inquiry into Fertilizer Procurement and Distribution in The Gambia, chaired by Justice Emmanuel Nkea, commenced sitting last Friday, 14th October 2011 at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul.

The first witness, 57-year-old Bakary Trawally from Kololi, presently a consultant on Pest Management, who is an ex-permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture; and the second witness, Dr. Amadou Sowe, a 53-year-old who works presently as a freelance Agricultural economist, testified at the start of the sitting of the Commission on Friday.

On the hand, the third witness, Momodou Ceesay, a businessman and native of Kinteh-Kunda Marong Kunda in Badibou, North Bank Region, gave his evidence before the Commission on Saturday.

Trawally was the permanent secretary (PS) at the Department of State for Agriculture in January 2008 and in March 2008, he was appointed permanent secretary No. 1; in November 2008 he was demoted to PS No. 2. On the 30th of April 2009 his service was terminated but was reappointed as PS No.1 on the 26th of May 2009 and Seedy Jarjue was made PS No. 2 of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).

On the 29th of May 2009, Seedy Jarjue was dismissed from MOA whilst Bakary Trawally was dismissed from service on the 5th of January 2010 but was reinstated as PS No. 1 on the 25th of January 2011 and then dismissed again from service on the 14th of March 2011.

In his testimony, ex-PS Bakary Trawally told the Commission that he was the PS that executed the fertilizer contract but had never bothered himself to read or make any reference to executing the contractRead more.

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