Policy Coherence for development….Trade

27/06/2011 at 12:01 pm 1 comment

Part I

Guest blog by Michael McManus

A couple of weeks back, this blog series claimed it could break down the confusion and complexity which surrounds the policy coherence for development debate with little more than a few hundred words. Today, when faced with explaining how trade and Irish trade policy affect developing countries, I realise that such a promise was perhaps a little ambitious. But, here goes.

(Note agriculture-related trade will be dealt with in a later post)

Understanding Irish trade policy (the boring bit)

Ireland’s trade policy is mostly decided at EU level. It is defined by a single European market allowing for free movement of goods, people and capital. Externally, the EU sets common tariffs for imports into the European Union. This policy is known as the ‘Common Commercial Policy’.

The European Commission implements the Common Commercial Policy. The Commission is advised by various committees such as the Article 113 Committee, made up of senior civil servants from each member state. Decisions on major trade matters can be made without European Parliament consultation, by member state Ministers and where necessary without unanimous support from all EU member states.

European trade policy is, however, largely influenced by agreements reached at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The WTO seeks to promote economic development through the regulation of world trade and the reduction of barriers to trade. WTO agreements focus on trade in products (GATT), services (GATS), Intellectual Property (TRIPS).

How trade policy impacts upon developing countries (a little less boring?)

Irish trade policy has an impact on developing countries at three different levels.

WTO Agreements 

WTO agreements promote trade by seeking, for example, to open up domestic markets to foreign products and services, reduce trade tariffs and end state subsidies. Agreement on new trade rules is reached at so-called trade rounds – negotiation between WTO members – which can continue for years. The current Doha Development Round seeks to address some of the many imbalances in global trade rules but is now in its tenth year.

Ireland’s commitment to policy coherence means that, as a member of the EU, it bears a responsibility to promote pro-development solutions at the current trade negotiations on the following major issues:

  1. Goods – ensuring that barriers to the trade in goods over which developing countries have an advantage (manufacturing of electrical goods, textiles, etc) are reduced;
  2. Services – gaining greater access for developing countries to Western service markets such as Tourism, Software development and maritime transport in particular through temporary free movement of persons;
  3. Access to essential drugs – ensuring that developing countries can access essential drugs for diseases like HIV and Aids at reasonable prices regardless of patents owned by the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies;
  4. Protection biodiversity and traditional knowledge  – ensuring that TRIPS does not allow abusive patenting of traditional plants, species and knowledge found in developing countries by multinational companies
  5. Ensuring that patents do not hinder the use of ICT in developing countries

EU General System of preferences

The EU gives preferential access to European markets for developing country goods using two distinct systems – the Cotonou Agreement and the General System of Preferences.

The Cotonou Agreement contains a section dedicated to a non-reciprocal trade agreement between the EU and ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries. It gives these countries access to European markets at lower tariffs than other countries for a large number of manufactured goods (textiles) and primary goods (oil, coal etc). However due to WTO rules, the Cotonou agreement on trade is being replaced by bi-lateral or regional reciprocal economic partnership agreements which have been subject to much criticism.

Under the ‘General System of preferences’ scheme, the EU gives favourable treatment to developing nations in accessing European Markets on three different levels. The GSP applies advantages to all developing countries. The GSP Plus scheme allows additional advantages to mid-level but fragile developing countries such as Sri Lanka and Columbia dependent on Human Rights, Sustainable development, Labour standards and Good Governance conditionalities. Finally, the ‘Everything but Arms’ agreement provides Least Developed Countries tariff-free access to the European Market for a vast amount of products.

The Cotonou Agreement and the GSP scheme aim to compliment the development cooperation efforts of Ireland and the EU. In practice, however, they present a number of policy coherence issues which the Irish Government should seek to influence on behalf of developing countries:

–          The complex arrangement of WTO, regional, bi-lateral agreements make participation in negotiations extremely difficult for developing nations;

–          Stringent EU standards on Rules of Origin greatly limit the potential impact of greater market access for developing country goods;

–          the EU policy on access for non-sensitive goods is welcome but developing country goods competing with sensitive European goods continue to face higher tariffs;

–          advantages given under the GSP scheme may well be used unfairly by the EU as bargaining chips in broader WTO negotiations;

–          Human Rights conditionality for the GSP Plus schemes has only ever been used against Sri Lanka and there is little confidence in its application;

–          Economic Partnership Agreements which replace the Cotonou Agreement reduce the potential impact of the Everything but Arms Scheme. These and reciprocal bi-lateral trade agreements are reached after unbalanced negotiations between the world’s largest trading bloc and some of the world’s poorest countries..

 

Part II discussing Aid for Trade and what NGOs can do in this area will follow tomorrow.

A deeper analysis of some of the above mentioned issues is available in the book Policy Coherence for Development – The state of play in Ireland

 

 —

Other blogs on this topic:

* “Oh No, not Policy Coherence for Development again!

* Reforming the EU’s Agriculture Policy 

* Making Trade work for Development

 

 

 

Entry filed under: EU, Government, MDGs. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Reforming the EU’s Agricultural Policy Talking Development Effectiveness in the Cambodian Jungle…

1 Comment Add your own

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 211 other followers

Archives

Dóchas on Twitter

The World's Best News - images

Happy International #Yoga Day!

Have a look at some of these pictures of African yoga: - http://ireland.ashoka.org/yoga-africa-transforming-young-minds-hearts-and-livelihoods
- http://www.africayogaproject.org/
- http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2014/04/pictures-yoga-bends-trends-kenya-20144494348396640.html 
Photo: Susan Njeri practices the Wheel Pose on the railway line at the entrance of #Kibera "This will be the largest privately-owned #solar power plant in Africa." http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/worldBusiness/artikel.php?ID=361671&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=post&utm_term=solar+plant+in+ghana+that&utm_campaign=Climate&__surl__=IgD8H&__ots__=1434360286047&__step__=1

#ghana #solar #renewables India’s first public skate park.

Rumbling trucks, roaming cows and honking tuk-tuks make skateboarding a risky pastime on the often potholed streets of India. So last year, a group of professional skateboarders joined together with a group of local volunteers to build #India’s first public #skate park. 
Here, street kids and young professionals alike can take a break and skate for free after a hard day’s work. As an added bonus the young skaters also receive free English lessons.

Read more about ‘the best skatepark in Asia’ here: bit.ly/1BYel0D The Africa Yoga Project provides scholarships and training to residents from slums and informal settlements across #Kenya, to help improve health and well-being while also providing participants with a source of income.

Read more: http://www.one.org/us/2015/06/03/yoga-is-helping-end-poverty-in-africa-no-seriously/?source=fb Women take the reins to build peace in #Colombia

The voices of #women as experts, survivors and negotiators have been included in a peace process with an unprecedented gender perspective, with the support of @unwomen UN Women and other partners.

See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2015/5/women-build-peace-in-colombia#sthash.NPu46jVf.dpuf

Photo: This woman shagrera – who uses ancestral forms of agricultural production – is one of many beneficiaries of a UN Women project to promote economic empowerment, which is key to building peace at local level. 
Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown "On the whole, #Africa is less war-torn than at any time in the past, which runs contrary to widespread perceptions that exist even among foreign policy experts." In the nineties, much of the continent was ravaged by #war, but today things have changed. Armed #conflict is now a smaller risk to most Africans than traffic accidents.

Find out more here: https://europa.eu/eyd2015/en/denmark/stories/africa-more-peaceful-ever Tehran Group Launches Anti-ISIS Cartoon and Caricature Exhibition

See
http://muftah.org/tehran-group-launches-anti-isis-cartoon-and-caricature-exhibition/#.VWhpBdK8CSp #AfricaDay is an opportunity to change the way many people in #Ireland think about Africa. 
Research commissioned by Dóchas has shown that our attitudes to the African continent have changed little since the 1980s.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/today-africa-day-time-update-our-views-continent-hans-zomer “Making corporal punishment history”

#Irish NGO Nurture Africa has teamed up with the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) in a project aimed at eradicating corporal punishment in schools in #Uganda.

Read more:http://www.nurtureafrica.ie/#!Working-together-to-eradicate-Corporal-Punishment-one-school-at-a-time/canh/553f7fc10cf23d01645aa90a

Photo: Umar Sekibala - Nurture Afrtica Child Protection Officer disseminating child rights and examples of alternative measures of dicipline (towards elimination of
corporal punishments) to Kyebando UMEA Primary School teachers and guardians How one community is working to overcome the challenges of climate change. "It's dry now, so we are working to be ready for when the rains come. Things have changed a lot in the past years, now that we have the gardens and dykes." http://www.trust.org/item/20150514040044-7uh4r/?source=fiOtherNews2

Photo: Women work on a vegetable garden built with U.N. funds in Djimebougou, Mali. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Chris Arsenault The changing face of #Lagos.

#Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, has had a makeover over the last decade, as this gallery from the BBC's Ayo Bello shows: 
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32556640

Visitors Map

Map

Dóchas Photos

1506_77

1506_76

More Photos

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 211 other followers

%d bloggers like this: