- The European Union has decided to restart importing fish from the Cape Verdean archipelago, thus lifting the sanctions posed on Cape Verde in year 2000 due to hygenic circumstances. The fisheries are one of Cape Verde's main industries and most exports traditionally go to the EU.
Yesterday's news of the EU's import ban lifting was met with great optimism on the archipelago. The long-awaited lifting could open the doors for new and needed investments in the sector, which together with tourism is seen as being the greatest potential for lifting Cape Verdeans out of poverty.
Representatives of the EU fisheries agency decided to lift the embargo after two years of heavy lobbying by Cape Verdean authorities and a three days visit in Praia - the Cape Verdean capital - which was concluded yesterday. Cape Verdean fisheries authorities also debated the many fisheries agreements between the archipelagp and the EU with their European counterparts.
Accoring to Cape Verdean Fisheries Minister Madalena Neves, the EU embargo, which has been in effect since February 2000, has led to an "enormous financial loss for Cape Verde, remembering that the exports quota in financial terms in the country had reached an average of between 150 and 200 Cape Verdean escudos annually" - correspondint to euros 1.2 to 1.6 million.
The archipelago traditionally exports three quarters of its fish and seafood to the EU. Fish exports further make up 21 percent of Cape Verde's total export value, according the statistics held by the EU.
Ms Neves further explained that, currently, there exist to private companies that already have achieved a sanitary approval according to EU standards for fish processing. These were reported to be a cannery on the island of São Vicente and another factory dedicated to the exports of fresh fish and lobster, located on the island of Sal.
The process of having the EU embargo lifted had by no means bee made easy for Cape Verdean authorities, and was only achieved this "quickly" through massive diplomatic help from Cape Verde's ex-colonial power, Portugal.
Ms Neves already in March this year had annunced that Cape Verde within short could complete with the adjustments of its fishery industry to restart exporting to the EU. However, the process again got off track one month later.
At that point, the Cape Verdean Minister explained that the taxation framework and the physical preparations for the restart of these exports already were in place. This, Ms Neves held in March, would assure a rapid reintroduction of Cape Verde into the EU list of countries that may export fish and seafood to the Union.
The three-year fisheries dispute between Cape Verde and the EU reads like an odd parantesis in the otherwise strong fisheries ties between the two parties. There exists an agreement allowing EU vessels to fish large quotas off the coast of Cape Verde for the period from July 2001 to June 2004, with Cape Verde receiving a large annual financial compensation.
Cape Verde is also listed by the EU as one of 25 developing countries "with high level of national or regional dependence on fishery product trade and where small scale fisheries contributes significantly to exports," and is therefore entitled to special EU aid in developing its fisheries.
The very strict and specific hygienic and sanitarian provisions in European countries however are a classic hinder for African countries trying to export their processed food products. Normally, high technological skills and large infrastructure investments are to be made before a production site reaches the demands of the North.
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