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close this bookThe Courier N 121 March-april 1990- Dossier Refugees - Country Reports: Botswana - Zambia (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)
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Visits

Vice-President Marin visits Southern Africa...

Manuel Marin, Vice-President of the Commission and Commissioner for Development paid an official visit to Zambia, Mozambique and Namibia from 31 January to 7 February 1990.

He also stopped off in South Africa, where he held talks with the heads of organisations in charge of running the Community’s apartheid victim support programme (the South African Council of Churches, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Kagiso Trust and union organisations).

In Zambia, attendance at the I 0th annual SADCC conference on “SADCC: The Second Decade. Entreprise, Skills and Productivity” (Lusaka, 31 January to 2 February) was on the agenda.

This was particularly significant as it marked the organisation’s first decade of existence and was therefore the opportunity to take stock of achievements. It was also a chance to produce a strategy for the ‘90s, in particular in the light of trends in the peace process in the region and the imminent accession of SADCC’s 10th member, Namibia. The fact that Mr Marin was present meant the Community could reassert its commitment to the aims which have been SADCC’s ever since it was first set up.

Bilateral contact with the Zambian authorities included talks with President Kenneth Kaunda, the Prime Minister, General Masheke, and Finance Ministers, Gibson Chigaga.

In Mozambique, Mr Marin was received by President Joachim Chissano, PM Mario da Graca Machungo and Trade Minister Daniel Filipe Tembe.

The trip to Namibia included a meeting with Sam Nujoma, then Head of SWAPO, and the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Martti Ahtisaari.

The talks with the authorities of these three countries covered the political situation and regional and national cooperation between the Community and Southern Africa, with particular reference to the implementation of LomV.

...the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

Mr Marin also visited Washington on 26 and 27 February to meet leaders of the IBRD and the IMF.

He talked, in particular. with Mr Camdessus, the Director-Gencral of the IMF, Mr Qureishi, the first Vice-President of the World Bank, and the Vice-President for Africa, Mr Jaycox.

The point of the Commissioners’s visit was to establish a first operational contact on the rationalisation of the developing countries’ economies with the Bretton Woods institutions. The latest Lomonvention between the ACP and EEC countries, signed on 15 December, in fact contains a new chapter (with a specific financial allocation) on support for structural adjustment. The Commission intends establishing a specific autonomous Community approach to the problem and organising coordination with the other international funders, particularly the World Bank and the IMF.

...the Solomon Islands

Mr Marin also paid an official visit to the Solomon Islands on 23 and 24 March 1990, where he met the Governor General, Sir George Lepping, the Prime Minister, the Hon. Solomon Mamaloni, and the Minister of Finance and Planning, the Hon. Columbus Abe.

Mr Marin was visiting the South Pacific region, where he attended the ACP-EEC Joint Assembly Meeting in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea, 1922 March 1990). Cooperation between the Community and Solomon Islands has been actively developed, within the framework of the Lomonventions, since the country became independent in 1978. Prime Minister Mamaloni underlined in his meeting with Vice-President Marin the areas in which his government intends to develop its cooperation efforts: forestry, fisheries, transport facilities, infrastructure and industrial development; furthermore, the human resources programme currently underway with the EC is to be continued.

As far as future cooperation was concerned, Vice-President Marin informed Mr Mamaloni that the national indicative programme for the Solomon Islands under LomV will consist of ECU 21.5 million (62.5 million S.I. dollars). Solomon Islands will also be able to benefit from the other instuments of EEC/ACP cooperation such as Stabex.

Mr Marin expressed the interest of the EEC in developing regional cooperation between the Pacific countries in order to progress in the vital sectors of tourism, transport, telecommunications and fisheries. He confirmed that negotiations will start shortly between the EEC and the Forum Fisheries Agency (the South Pacific Regional Organisation for Fisheries), in order to establish a multilateral fisheries agreement.

...and Fiji

While participating in the ACP/EEC Council of Ministers, in Suva, Mr Marin also paid an official visit to Fiji, where he met the President of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, the Prime Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara; and the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Josevata Kamikamica.

Vice-President Marin and the Government of Fiji confirmed their wish to cooperate in order to improve the economic performance of the South Pacific countries, and expressed their satisfaction at the state of cooperation between Fiji and the EEC since independence in 1970. The Fijian authorities underlined the main areas in which the Government intends to develop its cooperation efforts, namely the promotion of private entreprise, infrastructure support, rural development and agricultural diversification; the Finance Minister, Mr Kamikamica, stressed the Government’s policy of trade incentives and the possibilities available for joint ventures with EEC manufacturers and companies.

As concerns future cooperation, Mr Marin underlined the good economic prospects for Fiji and the opportunities offered by LomV in areas such as trade, private investment and tourism, as well as the possibility of a multilateral agreement between the Community and South Pacific countries in the fisheries sector. Mr Marin informed the Fiji Government that the national indicative programme for Fiji under the LomV Convention would consist of ECU 22.0 m (40 million Fiji dollars) in grants. Fiji would also be able to benefit from other cooperation instruments such as Stabex and loans from the European Investment Bank, and it is also one of the main beneficiaries of the Sugar Protocol of the Lomonvention.

During his official visit, Vice-President Marin met the Director of the Fiji Trade and Investment Board, Mr Surendra Sharma. The FTIB is a statutory body that promotes trade and investment and is currently promoting internationally the newly created Fiji Tax Free Zone facility. Mr Marin also visited the educational telecommunications network of the University of the South Pacific, and the EEC-funded Namosi road project in the main island of Viti Levu.

ERICH WIRSING RETIRES

After more than 30 years at the Commission, Erich Wirsing, Director at the Directorate-General for Development, has decided to retire. He began his career in the von der Groeben cabinet in the late 1950s, helping to shape the Community’s competition policy, and today he sums up the ground covered with a quotation from the then leader of the employers in one of the Member States - “I have always arranged agreements when I thought it was a good idea and the Commission isn’t going to stop me”.

Mr Wirsing, who was very interested in development? then moved to DG VIII, becoming Head of Division and later Head of various Directorates, most recently Western and Central Africa and the Caribbean.

With a deep understanding of the major issues, he put his commitment and his strength into working in this area. He influenced and helped set up the Lomodel and he was behind the designing of the regional fund. And it was he who developed and negotiated the new LomII principles policy dialogue and sectoral and regional concentration of cooperation, to name but two- which guide us still. Erich Wirsing was also the first editor of The Courier at the time when the journal began to come into its own, and the present layout reflects many of his ideas.

His knowledge and experience and the confidence he was able to inspire in his partners in development have gained him their friendship and respect as an understanding and impartial negotiator.

The Commission is losing one of its great administrators.

FISHERIES

The Community and Seychelles initial a new fisheries protocol

On 17 January, the Community and Seychelles initialled a new protocol laying down the fishing entitlements and financial compensation provided for in a fishing agreement which the two parties have signed for a three-year period starting on 18 January this year.

The two parties had signed an agreement on 28 October 1987 and the new protocol replaces the protocol attached to that agreement.

It provides for 40 tuna vessels to fish off the Seychelles coast for the three years’ duration of the protocol, with financial compensation from the Community of ECU 5900000, the shipowners having to pay dues of ECU 20 per tonne.

The agreement also involves the Community taking part in the financing of a scientific and technical programme in Seychelles to improve both the knowledge of marine stocks in this part of the Indian Ocean around these islands and the administrative structures in the fishing sector in Seychelles. This Community contribution will amount to ECU 2 700000.

The Community will also make it easier for Seychelles nationals to get into establishments in the Member States and supply them with study grants and practical training in the various scientific, economic and technical aspects of fisheries for this purpose (maximum of ECU 300 000).

NGOs

16th General Assembly of European NGOs

The 16th Annual General Assembly of European NGOs active in the development field was held from 3 to 6 April at the Borschette Centre, Brussels. NGO and Commission representatives reviewed their cooperation in 1989 and discussed prospects for the future.

The main theme of the Assembly this year was “ Europe 1993 in solidarity with the Third World”. The NGO 2001 Prize, instituted by the European NGOs in 1988, was awarded this year to the Human Rights Commission of El Savador.

Cooperation between NGOs and the Community, which began 15 years ago, is the embodiment of the Community’s support for the public’s solidarity with the poorest sections of the population in the Third World. It includes the cofinancing of microprojects in developing countries and projects to increase public awareness of development issues in Europe, the channelling of food aid and emergency aid through NGOs, and assistance to NGO coordination to help them work more efficiently.

EEC/NGO relations are based on mutual trust

Microprojects in different domains constitute the main area of cooperation between the Community and NGOs.

The Commission believes that the multiplier effect of these small projects is considerable and that their success is attributable above all to the keenness and personal commitment of NGO staff and their local partners in LDCS, NGOs’ freedom from external pressures and their relatively small size and resulting autonomy and administrative flexibility. This mix of qualities generally makes for efficient, speedy and flexible project preparation and implementation.

The Commission has pledged itself to respect characteristic features of NGOs such as autonomy and pluralism. The Commission has great confidence in the commitment and competence of these organisations, which is generally amply justified.

Areas of EEC-NGO cooperation

In 1989 Community aid for NGO operations totalled about ECU 266 million. It breaks down as follows:

- ECU 72m to cofinance microprojects in developing countries;
- ECU 8 m to cofinance projects to raise public awareness in Europe;
- ECU 114.3 m for food aid;
- ECU 4.9 m for the purchase of food products by NGOs;
- ECU 19.7 m for emergency aid;
- ECU 4.4 m for refugees and displaced persons;
- ECU 5 m for NGOs operating in Chile;
- ECU 2.2 m to combat drug abuse;
- ECU 30m to help the victims of apartheid;
- ECU 4.7 m for the people in the Front Line States;
- ECU 0.6 m for NGOs operating in the West Bank and Gaza;

Cooperation in some of these fields is of recent date: the budget headings for Chile and for the victims of apartheid were created in 1986; those for drug abuse control and for the West Bank and Gaza in 1987; and that for the Front Line States in 1988. This expansion reflects the NGOs’ growing ability to operate in different sectors, and in particular in fields where the Community’s official cooperation is often excluded.

Cofinancing of microprojects in the developing countries and of projects to raise public awareness in 1989

Cofinancing started in 1976, making it one of the oldest forms of EEC-NGO cooperation. Over the years the appropriation has gradually risen from ECU 2.5 million in 1976 to ECU 80 million in 1989. As in previous years, the whole 1989 appropriation has been committed, thanks to the quality and quantity of the NGO projects submitted for Community financing.

Concerning projects in developing countries, in all 832 applications for cofinancing (total request ECU 146 million) were processed over the year. Of these, 443 were cofinanced (ECU 72.0 million); 157 applications (ECU 34.5 million) were carried over to 1990. 232 applications (ECU 39.6 million) were withdrawn or rejected.

As usual, the project content is extremely varied but continues to fall into three main sectors: rural development, training and health. Projects remain small and effective, and are mostly implemented at village level (the average Community contribution per project was ECU 160000). The main priority is to meet the basic needs of the poorest sections of the population. The beneficiaries, who often make a contribution in kind to their project, undertake to maintain and manage it themselves when external aid comes to an end.

Of the projects cofinanced in 1988, 43% were in sub-Saharan Africa, 31% in Latin America and 20% in Asia.

As for the projects to raise public awareness, 103 projects were cofinanced for a total Community contribution of ECU 8 million. The main topics were: general development issues, food and agricultural problems and southern Africa and apartheid. The priority target groups were the general public and schools.

In comparison with 1988, the 1989 cofinancing of NGO projects in these latter two areas has made no progress, due to stagnation in available budget resources. The increase of credits in the Community budget for 1990, thanks to the support of European Parliament, will however lead to a new impulse in NGO cofinancing this year.

GATT

EEC proposals on tropical products

At the mid-way meeting (Montreal and Geneva), Ministers invited their representatives in the tropical products negotiating group to establish the procedures for the rest of the negotiations. This was done on 15 February.

They meant that each participant was committed to communicating, by 15 March, both a proposal and a summary of that proposal to reduce, eliminate and consolidate customs duties. The Community accordingly provided the GATT Secretariat with precise details (line by line) of its proposal on 16 March, setting out the following tariff reductions:

- 100 % for tropical industrial raw materials and non-processed tropical agricultural produts;
- 35 % for semi-finished tropical products;
- 50% for finished tropical products.

The illustration covers a total of 313 lines corresponding (1988) to imports from all destinations of a value of ECU 10.4 billion (including ECU 7.7 billion for preferential imports, including those under GSP and ECU 2.9 billion from the ACP States).

Application of the present customs duties would yield ECU 690 million and the Community’s illustration suggests that this would go down to ECU 240 million.

On the non-tariff side, the illustration starts with a gradual decrease in internal consumer taxes on tropical beverages (coffee, tea and cocoa). The trading partners are invited to demonstrate clearly that the said taxes really do have an effect on trade in these products. At all events, any reorganisation of internal taxes will be carried out in the light of the harmonisation of indirect taxation as part of the creation of the Community’s large internal market.

The non-associated third countries not eligible for the Community offer are, in order, Brazil, Colombia and various industrialised nations (Japan and the USA). The Community wishes to underline the importance it attaches in this sector to the interests of the least developed countries and of those with which it has contractual relations providing for preferential arrangements.

It is worth noting that the illustration fails to mention a number of products which may be substituted for the Community’s agricultural products and must still be negotiated in the agricultural group. However, these products are not necessarily to stay outside the negotiations on tropical products. Indeed, when the time comes, the Community will look at the question, in the light of its partners’ involvement and contributions, to see whether it is possible to offer additional concessions for these products.

The Community had already brought in autonomous reductions in its customs tariff in July 1989. It wishes to point out that it intends to continue its drive only if its partners are also willing to contribute by opening their markets. The illustration will therefore be developed, consolidated or reduced in the light of the contribution which they make.