On 11 December, development ministers discussed and adopted conclusions on the updated strategy on aid for trade, as presented in the Commission communication of November 2017 “Achieving prosperity through trade and investment: updating the 2007 joint EU strategy on aid for trade”.
A summary of the reports back to the Committee is now available.
The EU is the most open market for African exports. Most African countries have fully free access to the EU market. Other partners offer less favourable conditions for African exports. Europe is by far Africa’s largest export market and its main customer. Thanks to EU trade openness, exports of food and manufactured products from Africa to the EU keep increasing.
The EU is currently reshaping its relationship with Armenia and Azerbaijan through new agreements for which the negotiations ended (Armenia) or started (Azerbaijan) in February 2017. After Yerevan’s decision to join the EAEU (thereby renouncing to sign an AA/DCFTA), the initialling of the CEPA provides a new impetus to EU-Armenia relations. It highlights Armenia’s lingering interest in developing closer ties with the EU and provides a vivid illustration of the EU’s readiness to respond to EaP countries’ specific needs and circumstances. The CEPA is also a clear indication that the EU has not engaged in a zero-sum game with Russia and is willing to exploit any opportunity to further its links with EaP countries. The launch of negotiations on a new EU-Azerbaijan agreement – in spite of serious political and human rights problems in the country – results from several intertwined factors, including the EU’s energy security needs and Baku’s increasing bargaining power. At this stage, Azerbaijan is interested only in forms of cooperation that are not challenging the political status quo. However, the decline in both world oil prices and domestic oil production in this country is creating bargaining opportunities for the EU in what promises to be a difficult negotiation.