Take the example of coffee. In 2014 Africa —the home of coffee— earned nearly $2.4 billion from the crop. Germany, a leading processor, earned about $3.8 billion from coffee re-exports.
The concern is not that Germany benefits from processing coffee. It is that Africa is punished by EU tariff barriers for doing so. Non-decaffeinated green coffee is exempt from the charges. However, a 7.5 per cent charge is imposed on roasted coffee. As a result, the bulk of Africa’s export to the EU is unroasted green coffee.
The charge on cocoa is even more debilitating. It is reported that the “EU charges (a tariff) of 30 per cent for processed cocoa products like chocolate bars or cocoa powder, and 60 per cent for some other refined products containing cocoa.”
The impact of such charges goes well beyond lost export opportunities. They suppress technological innovation and industrial development among African countries. The practice denies the continent the ability to acquire, adopt and diffuse technologies used in food processing. It explains to some extent the low level of investment in Africa’s food processing enterprises.
Something for an audience member to raise the next time an EU ambassador gives one of those tired and colorless lectures on “good governance.”
The BBC reports that both Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo have sworn themselves in as president. It is becoming ever more apparent that Cote d’Ivoire is on the edge of plunging back into civil war.
Laurent Gbagbo, through Cote d’Ivoire’s constitutional council, has declared himself winner of the Sunday presidential runoff. Ivory Coast’s independent electoral commission and UN and other observers continue to maintain that Alassane Ouattara, the opposition candidate, won the election with 54% of the vote.
The ethnic arithmetic of the election disfavored the incumbent Mr. Gbagbo (a Bete, 6%) after the third place candidate, former president Konan Bedie (a Baoule, 23%) endorsed Mr. Ouattara (a Dioula, 1.4% but who also commands most (up to 90%) of the northern Muslim vote).
Gbagbo should not be allowed to get away with this. Cote d’Ivoire’s election was not a close call. Ouattara won, fair and square. If any unity government is formed Mr. Gbagbo can only be a junior partner in it.
Needless to say this outcome may plunge the country back into civil war, mostly along the same ethnic and regional contours as in 2002-04.