In June 2010 the East African Community (EAC) decided to hold off the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union (EU). Such an agreement would eventually constitute a Free Trade Area (FTA) between the EU and the EAC. It seems that the Eastern African countries would benefit from such an agreement, but is this really the case? Benjamin William Mkapa, Chairman of the South Centre and former President of the United Republic of Tanzania (1995-2005), says it would bring the EAC mostly disadvantages compared to the EU.
Both ENDS is co-hosting two sessions on the conference of the EFC (European Foundation Centre). This year, the conference is held from Thursday the 26th until Saturday the 28th of May in the town of Cascais, Portugal.
The European Parliament in its plenary session on the 5th of April, adopted a proposal to regulate Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) that will force them to become more transparent on where their funds come from, and go to, as well as how they count social and environmental risks. Furthermore, the Parliament requires ECAs to comply with EU human rights objectives in their activities, and to phase out the subsidising of fossil fuel projects in line with commitments adopted by the G20 in 2009.
On Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011, Both ENDS Foundation is hosting a so-called 'Political Café, or debate, on the new international role of Dutch water utilities in Developing countries. The State Secretary for Development Cooperation, Ben Knapen, would like to see a more direct involvement of Dutch companies in development cooperation. The Netherlands is internationally well known for its water expertise and both the government and the private sector would like to make this a focal point of foreign policy in the realm of international cooperation. Dutch water companies such as Evides and Vitens are already working with water companies in Ghana, Mozambique, Vietnam and Suriname.
An order, issued by a Brazilian court against the construction of the Belo Monte dam, has been overruled by a higher court. The dam will have disastrous effects on the environment and the population in the area. Moreover, it is questionable whether the supposed benefits will outweigh the high costs and the damage done.
Various donors and funds promised to make donations to support the pan-African Great Green African Wall (GGW) against the desert. This became clear during a meeting of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in the last week of February. In sum, these donations could mount up to around 3 billion US dollars. The envisaged 15 kilometers wide and up to 8000 kilometers long wall consisting of plants and trees will cross 11 countries south of the Sahara. The difference between failure and success will depend on the way the project is executed.
On 28 February 2011, a letter signed by 120 NGOs was sent to the members of the Committee on International Trade. With this letter, the undersigned organizations call upon the European Parliament to support a more balanced investment policy.
The official Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB in November 2010 announced to consider support for the expansion of the Panama canal. According to the local Gatún Lake Defense Committee the project in its current shape will not only be uneconomic, but also very harmful to the environment. Recently Both ENDS informed Atradius DSB of these concerns. The ECA is currently assessing the significance of these concerns for its eventual decision to issue an insurance policy.
The European Commission is about to take important decisions about Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). These agreements are designed to protect corporations that invest in a foreign (often developing) country. These international agreements are binding, but often undermine the social and environmental regulations that developing countries want to implement. On march 3, the European Parliament will vote on reforming these policies.
Despite vehement protests from the local community and the ban from the federal government of the state Pará, on 26 Januari 2011 the Brazilian government gave its assent to the construction of the Belo Monte Dam in the River Xingu.