A Virtual Study Tour on Advocacy
As part of the advocacy work conducted in the EAC’s coffee sector, the EU-EAC MARKUP through the International Trade Centre (ITC) had planned a one-week study tour of Brussels for coffee business membership organisations (BMOs) and national advocacy consultants in 2020. During the trip, the association would visit various European Commission agencies, European interest group representatives and private sector associations in face-to-face meetings.
As COVID-related restrictions persist now into year two, these travel plans had to be changed. Instead, a two-week online webinar series, the Virtual Coffee Advocacy Study Tour was developed and facilitated by Nelli Hajdu, trade specialist for fruits and vegetables.
Speaking on 19 April at the opening event, Jocelin Cornet, Head of Regional Cooperation at the European Union Delegation in Tanzania and EAC, said in his remarks: ‘The tour represents an opportunity for EAC coffee exporters to identify and overcome barriers to access to the European Union market and increase employment and livelihood in EAC.’
Joining over the course of the following sessions, experts from the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries in the Netherland spoke about the requirements that business associations should fulfil to play an integral role in regional policy-making processes. ‘Quality, commitment and building sustainable relationships are key to the opportunities in coffee!’ said Jantien Rutte in her presentation. Her colleague Gustavo Ferro added that ‘the increasing focus on the science of coffee will require coffee exporter to know their products inside out and to provide documentation. For example, this can relate to the organoleptic characteristics of the coffee, the grading process and the resulting cupping score.’
During the Virtual Coffee Advocacy Study Tour, BMOs met experts, discussed standards requirements and learnt about EU policy and market access structures and gained awareness of market opportunities in the EU market. Participants also learned about cooperation strategies across sectors to leverage common interests and establish new networking opportunities.
In a hands-on exercise, participants had to work together address different scenarios and develop advocacy positions and strategies.
This event achieved a milestone in the advocacy coaching of the EAC coffee sector through the MARKUP programme and laid the foundations for a networking platform of stakeholders across the entire coffee value chain that will support them in the future.