The ICO recently held the first meeting of a Working Group reviewing the International Coffee Agreement 2007 (ICA 2007).
As previously highlighted by C&CI, a number of options are available to the ICO, including extending the existing agreement, or negotiating a completely new agreement.
The chair introduced the results of a survey of ICO members. In total, 16 responses had been received from exporting and importing members. Some members defended extension, while others preferred extension with amendments or renegotiation.
The ICO’s Executive Director, José Sette (shown here), highlighted the fact that, from the responses received, Brazil advocated a simple extension without amendments, while the European Union had indicated that it would rather terminate the ICA 2007 than approve a simple extension without amendments. All other responses contemplated the possibility of an extension with amendments and/or a new agreement.
In relation to making changes to the present agreement, several members expressed the opinion that these were needed for the organization to meet the challenges facing the world coffee sector, which were substantially different from those when the last Agreement was negotiated. These members favoured a new agreement.
The chair stated that comments from many members pointed towards the need to make changes in the agreement in order to deal with current challenges, among which were: the structure of the organization; new and emerging issues; and a new relationship with the private sector.
The UN coffee organisation recently sought legal advice from its advisers on the difference between amending and renegotiating the agreement, in order to advance substantive debate on the way forward.
Given the lack of information available at present, the ICO’s lawyers considered that obtaining guidance from a specialist in international treaties might be useful at the appropriate time, subject to the availability of the text of any proposed changes.