Dublin, Ireland – The Irish AWEPA Section held a welcome meeting for new Irish MPs and Senators in the Irish Parliament on 13 July 2016 – and also delivered a strong message of trade reform.
Over 30 people attended the get-together including the new Irish Minister for Development and the Diaspora, Hon. Joe McHugh; leading members of the Irish AWEPA Section; and members of Proudly Made in Africa, a group dedicated to promoting African trade to Europe.
Welcoming the gathering and those MPs and Senators who were new to AWEPA, Hon. Maureen O’Sullivan and Hon. Anthony Lawlor gave an over view of the work they had done over the past six months with the AWEPA Joint Monitoring Teams.
Delivering a fair deal for African nations in the Economic Partnership Agreements was still the issue of the day, said Hon. O’Sullivan, Head of the Irish AWEPA Section, based on her experience of the discussions at the recent ACP-EU Assembly in Windhoek, Namibia.
Meanwhile, Hon. Lawlor talked about initiatives that he had begun with Namibian farmers, while in Namibia for the ACP event, in order to improve their opportunities to export to the EU.
Proudly Made in Africa, a group which seeks access for African products to Europe and also carries out educational initiatives to alert business students to the potential of African trade, discussed its recent research publication “Evidence and Opportunity 2.0.”
This report shows many interesting trends but, worryingly, a worsening balance of trade between Ireland’s and six of its key African partner countries, from 15:1 in 2010 to 60:1 in more recent years. Many of the MPs and Senators present were anxious to take up this issue on the resumption of parliament.
The incoming Minister for Development, Hon. McHugh, ended the meeting with a personal account of his recent trip to Uganda and, in particular the lessons he had learnt from refugees and casualties coming to Uganda from South Sudan. He commended the work being done by many different state and non-state actors in northern Uganda to help these refugees and victims.