Can you help us ensure Ghana and Cameroon receive a level playing field post-Brexit?
As you may be aware, both Ghana and Cameroon currently enjoy protection for goods they export to the UK under EU mechanisms that grant them favourable market access as developing countries. This includes protection for our much-loved Fairtrade bananas and cocoa that support hundreds of thousands of livelihoods across the two countries and play an important role in development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. As we move closer to Brexit, however, and the UK Government pursues an independent trade policy distinct from that developed by the EU, this protection is not currently guaranteed to continue after the transition deadline on December 31, 2020.
While African countries like Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire have recently concluded continuity arrangements with the UK, Ghana and Cameroon have yet to secure a deal. If the two countries fail to reach agreements, or no transitional protection is put in place at the end of the year, both countries, as Lower Middle Income Countries, could find themselves trading with the UK under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). This would mean significant new tariffs that are likely to be borne by Ghanaian and Cameroon farmers and workers.
A call for action….
Currently, the UK is attempting to negotiate bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Cameroon and Ghana under tight timelines imposed by Brexit and exacerbated by COIVD-19. If they are rushed through, FTAs with Ghana and Cameroon will carry a number of risks that could severely undermine climate change, gender equality and development goals.
The Fairtrade Foundation, Traidcraft Exchange, Global Justice Now and the Trade Justice Movement are therefore calling for the UK Government to offer Ghana and Cameroon a new market access arrangement that is the equivalent of the EU’s ‘Everything But Arms’ access. This arrangement would afford all parties the necessary time to move towards a future trading arrangement with West Africa that upholds climate change, gender equality and development goals.
To support them, we are asking Fair Trade groups and campaigners in Scotland to get in touch with their MPs, urging them to support this call to avoid a Brexit ‘cliff-edge’ and a potential damaging cost to Ghanaian and Cameroonian workers’ livelihoods.
An additional point the Foundation is raising is the risks to Fairtrade producers in the event of a no-deal Brexit. In this scenario, businesses importing cocoa and coffee from Fairtrade producers which have been processed in the EU will need to pay a new tariff of 8% from the UK government. Businesses exporting Fairtrade products to the continent will need to pay a new tariff of at least 6 percent (from the EU).
These costs are likely to be passed onto consumers or farmers and workers in developing countries, making it even harder for those in developing countries to earn a living.
The Foundation are therefore also calling on the UK Government to confirm that, in the event of no deal with the EU, it will unilaterally suspend tariffs on produce between the UK and the EU which is in transit from developing country producers or has been processed from developing country products. The EU should also unilaterally suspend tariffs for similar produce.
Can your Fair Trade group help us?
- Find your local MP here.
- We have also prepared a draft letter for you to copy, paste and send to your MP in an email, should you need it (please feel free to amend/add to in your own way).
- The issues discussed above have been adapted from briefings prepared by the Fairtrade Foundation, Traidcraft Exchange, Trade Justice Now and Global Justice Movement. More information can be found here and here.