East African Community and European Union never ending ratification

With no agreement for the Economic Partnership between the European Union (EU) and the East African Community (EAC) in sight, the biggest question at this time is what is keeping the individual countries from finding common ground and if that could be expected soon.

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Source: Global Risk Insights

The region-to-region comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) seems to be a controversial topic. Even if there is no media coverage on the European continent. The  goals are aimed to strengthen the relationship between the EU and the EAC and drive forward development. The EPA agreement is centered around the trade of goods.

The main objective is to achieve a duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market and to open the EAC market gradually. This means that an equivalent of 82.6% imports from the EU will be liberalized and there will be no changes on the import taxes for the next 25 years.

The EU has been trying to work on a ratification of the EPA since 2007. It seems most countries have a common opinion on the trade and are all ready to contribute to the increasing business relations in East Africa. The further points about economical, health and rural development will all be run with existing EU funds that do not affect the individual countries of the EU directly.

The countries of EAC have made attempts since 2007 to  gain access to the European market. Kenya and Rwanda succeeded first with the EPA consolidating their commercial position. On the other hand, it brought disadvantages. Kenya belongs to middle-income economies so it will be charged by higher taxes if the  EAC does not sign the EPA and it will influence Kenya’s economy negatively.

Tanzania is still considering the pros and cons of signing the deal by running a study first but there are two countries that oppose the request. Without a study Tanzania will not sign the trade deal with the EU,with one of its important European business partner being the United Kingdom.The EPA seems inconvenient after Brexit and the deal could damage relations with China Tanzania’s main Investor.

The EU imposed trade sanctions against Burundi that caused civil unrest and unwillingness to make a deal. The latest country be involved in the intergenerational process was  South Sudan.

Uganda is also preparing to sign however prefers to wait for all countries of the EAC. Permanent Secretary, ministry of Trade, Amb. Julius Onen, said: “We are not going to allow EPA to disfranchise EAC. What is happening now is that this issue (EPA) is being blown out of proportion by a group of people.” it is not the end of the world for the EAC region. “Uganda does not want to see a weakened EAC, this is why as a country we are trying to see that we are all pulling from the same direction.”

Regarding the signing of the trade treaty between the EU and the EAC, the UN think tank has warned the EAC not to sign the deal. This is because they have made studies to look up how the deal would favor the East African countries nonetheless this deal would not have a positive impact in the trade of this countries. “UNECA says the removal of taxes on capital goods from Europe will cause the EAC accumulated revenue losses of $1.15 billion per year.”

To conclude, several countries of the EAC are still examining the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of the trade. Some of them,  disagree due to higher taxes and stronger competition from the EU, it is a complex agreement that will still be negotiated for several years.

Source: CTGN AFrica

Article North America: Trump’s first 100 days of presidency … Failure or success?

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 3, 2017.

(Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images,U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 3, 2017)

As usual, when a new president arrives to the White House, the media focus on analyzing his first 100 days of presidency in order to grade presidents according to their achievements and failures related to foreign policy and national affairs. And once they have that evaluation it is common for the media to compare those first months of presidency with the first ones of some other previous presidents who have gone through the White House.

This year the analysis will have more impact and repercussion than before, this is because the figure of Donald Trump, the new president, is kind of polemic and unpredictable, perhaps because his trajectory or because his declarations in con- ferences and meetings at national and worldwide level.

The trajectory of Donald Trump is very peculiar, because he worked during a long stage of entrepreneur and with certain appearances in reality shows. These are two of the most important factors for Donald Trump to be a different presi- dent nowadays, for good or for bad.

If we look back and focus on the period of time since Trump was named presi- dent, we can see that Trump won a large number of followers thanks to the con- troversial promises that he made, such as the construction of a wall between Mexico and the United States and restrictions on Muslim access to the country. As we see reflected in the newspaper “The Republic”, approximately 60% of those promises have not been fulfilled.

Other promises that he could not fulfill yet are: canceling payments to climate change programs, deporting more than two million illegal immigrants, and the promise of decentralize the education and push for its privatization.

Following the analysis process, we also have to include his part of the program that was achieved, as well as:announce the intention to renegotiate or withdraw from the North American free Trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, announce the withdrawal of the Transpacific association agreement, suspend the immigration of regions prone to terrorism or decrece the reconstruction of the Army.

As we can see many of the measures that the president has promised to carry out are very ambitious, difficult to meet or require large periods of time to be carried out. However, not everything has been failures and Trump has managed to fulfill in these few days many of his promises.

As a conclusion, we can say that Trump and his administration face a serious problem but in spite of the pessimistic comments directed to the performances of Trump and its party, the failures of these months are not as devastating as some may think. As CNN says “Trump will be low on the rank list. If he wants to be part of the pantheon of productive presidents, there is no way to make this case convincingly”.

But anyway, these first 100 days are just a very small part of his trajectory as the president of the USA and only the future and just the future will show us what is next.

Category: North America, Donald Trump,  american elections

Venezuela marching towards a civil war

Caracas, April 23/2017 the situation in Venezuela has been escalating since Saturday. Around 24 people were killed during these protests. It´s been three weeks of hard social movements from both sides, mainly triggered by National Assembly removal of power in favor of the Supreme Court.

Supporters of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro demonstrate as opposition activists march towards the Catholic Church's episcopal seats nationwide, in Caracas, on April 22, 2017.

Source: AFP, BBC NEWS

 

These actions of dissolving the National Assembly were a low blow towards the political opposition of Maduro and democratic movements of Venezuela. The protests took place through a “silence march” honoring those killed in the past anti-government protests. During these protests the city of Caracas has turned into a war scenario, a 47 years old woman was killed by the impact of a frozen plastic bottle of water and there has been more that 13 deaths according to BBC News.

President Nicolas Maduro has uncovered his true political ambition by assassinating congressman and main representatives of the opposition, especially with the use of alleged paramilitary groups. His latest political movement has been the dissolution of the National Assembly because he did not agree with the signing of the “Democratic Letter” which would restrict his power.

The letter called “La Carta Democrática” or Democratic Letter is a document created by the Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) to encourage and promote democracy over its members. The Secretary General (SG), Luis Almagro, can apply article 20 of the letter if there is any doubt about representative democracy standards: human rights, separation of power and freedom of expression. Several Latin American countries have suffered the power of the letter such as Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Nicaragua For instance; Fujimori was sentenced to prison for several human rights violations during its mandate in Peru (1990-2000).

The SG states, based on the reports made, that there is: a humanitarian crisis, no separation of power and violations of human rights. In fact this report, which is supposed to be unbiased, is said to be influenced by Maduro´s opposition according to pro-government supporters.

Source: Organización de Estados Americanos

The idea of applying article 20 implies a future investigation of Maduro´s regime, which is not willing to be under investigation, this is the reason why the Supreme Court took over the legislative power. There was three days of uncertainty but finally the legislative power returned to the National Assembly. Nevertheless, the protest did not come to an end.

Molotov bomb attacks from civilians towards public institutions, state personnel, private business men… The opposition leaders demands that Maduro´s administration must accept their demands because having “political prisoner’s” is a clear picture of how Venezuela has become a dictatorship.

The only way of ending this protest is celebrating new regional and national elections. These elections are arranged to 2018 but Venezuelans cannot stand this situation. There is a lack of supply not only within Venezuela’s territory but in the international sphere.

What Trump has been so far

In this article, we are going to see a brief general overview of the 45th President of The United States, Donald trump, given by the hand of Dori Toribio. She is a US correspondent working for media programmes, like Noticias Cuatro and Informativos Telecinco. We are going to review his main problems and what has been so far on their most mediatic neighbour, Mexico.

dori toribio
Dori Toribio’s work consists on covering the information given by foreign countries or regions wherethey have been sent. They are the eyes and ears of their viewers and readers. They have to put in context the information given, making it easier to comprehend for anyone, which makes them much more present in the news rather than the national chronicle.

Since he got in his presidency, Donald Trump has gathered a great part of the media on any device or any country. With few time in the power, he has made sure that most US news revolt around him and hasn’t left anyone indifferent. But there is a list of problems in his administration. “Trump’s administration has lots of problems. For various reasons, like the fact that they haven’t been in the power a 100 days and the start for any administration is hard. But right now the biggest problem without a doubt is that there is a lot of credibility issues regarding the president.” Said Dori Toribio. “Since he got into power, he has made a series of consecutive statements (or tweets) that has been found inaccurate or directly false, which sums up to his polemic talks as a presidential candidate.”

His political un-correctness and his bold statements have made him one of the most disapproved presidents. “This credibility issues supposes big problems, in the time where he should be enjoying his “Presidential honeymoon”. But at this moment his approval index is around 37%, one of the lowest of the history.”

Nevertheless his mediatic storm has made some different views with different points over the last months. “There is a divided vision about it.” argues Dori. “Trump’s followers are satisfied with the confrontation of the president with the media, whose credibility plummeted in the country. But the president of the United States has declared war to the media since his first week in the White house. And that creates an unusual dynamic in Washington in a brand-new Administration.” Trump’s has been restless from taking out the credibility of the media. “The media has been called “fake news” almost daily and has been declared “The enemy of the people”, and this language has been for us extremely worrying, because it makes you remember historic movements or leaderships that has not been very democratic.”

Despite his approval rate and his war on the media, Trump general opinion is diverse, mainly because he is trying to stick to his promises on the electoral campaign. “This is a really big country where there is millions of people and the opinion is not unanimous. Trump won the elections with more than 62 millions of votes and a great part of their voters are still happy with their president because they consider that he is succeeding the promises established in the campaign which made them vote him.” Says Dori. “But there is millions of voters who did not bet for him, and according to the popular vote the majority. And it’s usual to hear critics and concern about him or even fear between some Americans due to the situation that he is generating or the future that the United States can confront with Trump in the White House. It’s a president with few precedents in the history, probably the only thing that anyone can agree in this moment.” The social division has notably increased since he got in charge, with various rallies against him, appealing to not make him president.”

His biggest promise in his campaign was that he was going to “build a great great wall” between Mexico and the US, but as we have seen, there has been little movement in the administration. According to Dori, there has been very little details about the foreign policy of the Administration regarding Mexico. “There has been lots of accusations and words, but right now anything has turned into the practice. We will have to see exactly what Trump is planning to do in the economic and commercial terrain, apart from knowing if he is going to be able to build his desired wall, for budget problems.” “The only thing that has been a reality is the change in the migratory policies and deportations and pitifully, it affects millions of Mexicans in the US, apart from other communities.

From the war on the media, to his harsh declarations on foreign neighbours like Mexico, I think that Trump’s future is saving for something even bigger, but apart from that, we will have to wait and see what he is planning, either for the good or the worse of the country.

GREENPEACE vs. TOXIC POLICIES & LEADERS

donald trump tweet global warming

In an interview, the Campaigns Manager of Greenpeace Spain argues how Trump’s administration represents a threat to the progress that has been made in terms of gender and ethnic equality, and for sure: global warming. 

“Because environment is not isolated”

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María José Caballero,  Campaigns Manager of GP SPAIN and volunteer.

 

Maria José Caballero, Campaigns Manager of Greenpeace Spain has been almost 10 years working in this great NGO. Graduated as a biologist by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and then specialized in Management of NGO’s by ESADE, it’s pretty clear the profile of professional and conscious person she wanted to be: a volunteer.

I feel so grateful about how comfortable she made me feel, the interview turned into a close conversation. I’ve learned so many things thanks to this great woman in such a short time! She showed being an expert on international affairs because -among other things.- I had not even warned about my visit.

We started talking about her current projects, in order to understand deeply what are her functions in the core of the NGO.  In fact, she and her team are working on the “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” international campaign. And many others such as the Artic and Amazonas Projects; also they are working on national issues as the bees affected by insecticides with neonicotinoids and the help to the artisanal fishermen. The women as one of the main collectives affected by climate change also play an important role in their agenda-setting.

“Environment is not isolated, we fight for reach a fair society passing through people rights to climate protection” she said. Apparently, both of them with nothing in common. The thing is that the ecosystem needs to be carefully protected by institutions: the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, the jobs we keep in order to survive, the home where we rest… and this is the aim of Greenpeace, rebuild an environment corrupted by corporations that, protected by states, destroys our ecosystems where human being, fauna, and flora must be keeping in balance. “We are living in a globalized world where the rules of the market are being imposed” she complained.

Related to “the water we drink”,  M. J. Caballero remind the situation living by the population along to the threatening pipelines of Keyston XL and Dakota. That last one, is feared because of the tribe’s water supply could be in danger and it also desecrated sacred lands. She said they and the population -without under the brand of Green Peace.- have stopped temporarily the construction of that pipeline. They are clearly more than social denouncement. They achieve real merits with real action.

resistAfter dissertation, I cut straight to the point, inquiring her about the “RESIST” banner by GREENPEACE USA in front of the White House and the consequent idea of political positioning or political lobbying that could be understood, she answered that Trump’s assumptions are totally against to the goals of the NGO and GP as a movement that pretends bring the power back to the people, they just pretend to protect the society from the threat that is living in their government by encouraging people. “We believe in a diversity world, far from xenophobia, racism, and sexism, and we are absolutely independent of political parties, nor ideologically neither economically speaking .” Obviously is the essence of any NGO being totally impartial in order to defend public interests, that specific topics states tend to avoid or forget.

Surprisingly, sometimes political parties and GP defend same laws reinforcements or paralyze them at international cooperation scenarios…

Protest ahead of Vote on EU-Canada Trade Deal at EU Parliament in Strasbourg


Action of GP while is approving CETA in the EuropeanParliament (Strasbourg)

…but with different intentions. Is the case of CETA agreement that was positively voted in European Parliament the past 15 of February. Between its opposition were Podemos, Marie Le Pen, and Los Verdes, for instance. Some because of their populist way to work and the achievement of their isolation aspirations; some others because of real worries about people and dangerous environment which is involved. And some, for the combination of both of those.

etiquetado-transgenicos

The label of any product

CETA is a new ‘toxic’ trade agreement between EU and Canada that allows the free exportation between its territories. Why is it ‘toxic’? Easy. It would be toxic for our European democracy which has restrictive politics about toxic elements of hormone foods and its labels (“If they take away from us the capacity to choose freely, what’s left?” warned M. J. Caballero), not to mention the specific Tribunal that is pretending to implement to judge harmful reports to that trade individually from European and national laws from the Member States; or the dismissing of employees, taking into account that a lot of current European trade of food are producers from our borders.

While we were discussing these topics, we realized that she was running out of time, and I didn’t want to obstacle the key role that she means in the team of Campaigns with such an important work to do in this shocking scenario. So we said goodbye at the shout of:

“The fight continues!”

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María José Caballero being interviewed by student Alba Tissera at the headquarter of GP in San Bernardo,107, Madrid.

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CHINA AMONG FURS

Today we will interview Julio Suarez Garcia, whose role is the European Director, and member of the Board of Directors of the company Saga Furs. But what exactly is Saga Furs? Saga Furs is a Finnish company listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange. It is a fur auction house. Its customers are farmers from all over Europe and the United States and buyers from various markets, of which the main one is the Chinese market. This last is the reason why we interview Julio, and is that despite being a European company, practically all of its market is concentrated in China as Julio tells us. China is its main market. They sell approximately 85 of their skins to that market, they have clients at different levels of the value chain in the Chinese market. From brokers to manufacturers and retailers.

The question we ask is why China and not another Asian country? Or why leave Europe when the skins business also works here? Well Saga Furs with China mainly because the consumption of leather garments is very high. That means that there are large centers of production of garments that have to supply the raw material in auction houses like ours. The main benefit lies in the large size of the market and in the great economic development that the country has undergone in recent years. This development fits well with products such as fur garments, which sell well in expanding economies such as China.

But not all are benefits, China imposes certain barriers especially those who come from the outside. The regulations regarding the establishment of foreign companies in China are very rigid, making it difficult to establish in that country. “Apart from the import tariffs that apply to the skins we sell, the main concern is the risk of changing regulations that may happen from one day to another.” But tariffs and tariffs are not the only barrier, the differences Cultural and the different approaches to “doing business” have also been a challenge that they have had to face by hiring staff from their own country, which in the long run is beneficial, but at first was not so much.

We are also interested in knowing the way in which business affects the fact that they are made in China, because nothing has to do with the way of doing business in Finland, the home of this company,than in China. “The culture is very different. When it comes to doing business, Chinese entrepreneurs seldom say NO. ” Hence the great difficulty faced by Saga Furs in evaluating the success of a business for the commitment acquired in a meeting. That is why until you do not see with your own eyes the final result, success is not guaranteed

We asked Julio about the origins of Saga Furs in China and we were surprised to know that Saga was a pioneer in the world of fashion in China. They made the first western fashion show in the Forbidden City of Beijing in the mid-80’s, a milestone not only in the world of fur, but in general, to get a fashion show in such a place. Then the country has changed a lot. Especially in big cities. Shanghai, Beijing or Shenzhen are big cities that nothing has to envy New York or London. Nevertheless the rural interior of the country continues quite behind in the social evolution.

In China you can perfectly see the two sides of the coin, one day you are in a city full of all kinds of technology and the next day you go through a depressed rural area where they barely have to feed their cattle and thus subside.

But this colossus of fur is not slowed down in China, Saga also has, outside its office in Beijing and Hong Kong, delegation in South Korea, more specifically in Seoul. Korea is a very different market, much closer to the European way of operating since it has followed a much more “westernized” mode of development.

“Saga is continuing its expansion in Asia, and we will continue to expand our presence in China, due not only to the current relevance of the market, but also to the potential that it represents.”

 

We thank Julio Suarez for his time and dedication in answering our questions, it has been an honor to know more closely a great company like Saga Furs and its operation in the Asian continent.

ECONOMY BETWEEN SPAIN AND GERMANY

Markus Kemper is the Sub-director of the German Trade Chamber in Spain (Deutsche Handelskammer für Spanien or AHK Spanien) and his almost seventeen years of experience working for the German government have helped hundreds of German companies to establish, grow and develop in Spain. This delegation represents the German economy in Spain and is the main service for German and Spanish companies. It offers services oriented to the promotion of German foreign trade and its scope of action ranges from emerging companies to renewable energies and energy efficiency. The German Trade Chamber is a great support for the German govern when specific information on legal aspects are required or when it comes to taking the first steps in the Spanish market.

The good relationship and communication between countries is fundamental for Mr. Kemper to succeed on his work, so he answered “critical” when I asked him about how the current situation of the EU could be considered. He affirmed that the spirit is more of dissolution than union and insisted that the situation is not to be quiet, “any unitary movement is beneficial” however he does not hesitate to affirm that most of the European countries are currently growing and that this has not always been like this.

Spain is the country on the European union that grows the most”. Mr. Kemper explained that since the beginning of the crisis the German investment in Spain has increased considerably. He stressed the close relationship of both countries in some industries such as the automobile industry where Spain and Germany share interests and space for decades as well as in the metallurgical or banking sector. In fact, during the last years, the decline of Spanish economic areas such as the Manufactures (The loss of power in manufactures sector is an almost general European phenomenon.) or Building sector has had a reflection on the German economy and vice versa, so the economic interdependence o both countries is real.

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*Foto with Mr. Markus Kemper in the German Trade Chamber’s hall.

The explanations Mr. Kemper gave to the questions were quite brief but so concise and well structured that somehow you just wanted to know everything about the complex European economic system and all its secrets and curiosities. Sudden questions were constantly appearing while Mr. Kemper was explaining and one of it led directly to a small chat aside the interview about the desire to know what are the main differences between German and Spanish companies and why they have so different productivity results. He answered every small doubt and half smiling explained that what years have allowed him to prove is that in general the difference is mainly cultural. Mr. Kemper explained that Spain has a serious problem of productivity growth shared with Italy and other, mainly southern, European countries. “The work productivity in Spain is lower than the European average”, the problem is that the annual growth rate of labor productivity in Spain or Italy is constantly one point lower than the German when the capabilities and the market competitive capacity they have are nearly the same.

We came together to the conclusion that Spain has amazing potential but doesn’t work as hard as it should. Other reasons could be the reduction in 70% of the business services offered by the state since 2012, which leaves small and medium-sized enterprises unprotected and struggling to compete in the European market, or in many other cases, the owners of the companies are the culprits ignoring the true potential of their businesses and therefore do not take measures that fit their real needs. Mr. Kemper in convinced that Spanish people is not truly concerned about Spain’s huge and highly competitive market. “The service sector for example or the hostelry industry is more powerful in Spain than in Germany.

When you talk to a person like Mr.   Kemper asking about unemployment, one of the most serious problems in Spain seems to be obligatory. He is convinced that it is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects to work out, so on this subject, Mr. Kemper said that the German Trade Chamber for Spain, apart from advising companies on all aspects about the education field, can presume to have stood out for its involvement and commitment in Dual-Education helping more that 2.000 young students to enter to the labor market with the “best equipment”, something that as Mr. Kemper says has also benefited German companies, one of the most important foreign employment sources in Spain.

Talking to Marcus Kemper was a good experience and certainly a beginning class of economy. One of those conversations that ends giving you a great sensation of having learned some new valuable things. Our meeting helped me as well to realize that Spain has to advance in many things and to work lot of things out but also that it is certainly a country that can proudly contemplate the work carried out during the last years and look to the future with optimism, taking advantage of its incredible potential. I undoubtly recommend visiting the German Trade Chamber and enjoying a wonderful building that host a huge amount of conferences, seminars, expositions and talks about infinite different themes and that precisely this year celebrates its 100th anniversary.