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Saturday, January 25, 2020
- The growing partnership between 78 countries of Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) and the 28-member European Union (EU) has been described as one of the most successful examples of both South-South and North-South cooperation.
As ACP Secretary-General Dr. Patrick I. Gomes points out: “The ACP-EU partnership has a significant contribution to offer to the global development agenda.”
“Not only does it bring together more than 100 countries in the world in a legally binding partnership based on trade, development cooperation and political dialogue, but it has also made an impact through effective and comprehensive development programmes, as well as valuable collaborations with a wide variety of actors”, he said last week.
A two-day meeting of the Joint Council of Ministers and key officials from the 106 countries concluded April 29 with two key decisions: a pledge to ensure the success of the upcoming summit of Heads of State in Papua New Guinea 30 May- 1 June and an appeal to the EU for flexibility on free trade deals with ACP regions.
The meeting was chaired by the President of Senegal Macky Sall and took place at the Abdou Diouf International Conference Centre in the capital of Dakar.
The Summit is expected to be a watershed event for the ACP Group of States, in terms of providing the necessary political mandate to reorient the organisation, and a basis for more concrete engagement in discussions on the future of ACP-EU relations.
The Foreign Minister of Papua New Guinea Rimbink Pato made a presentation on the state of preparations for the upcoming 8th Summit and urged delegations to ensure high levels of participation.
Among the decisions taken by the Council of Ministers was the need for an urgent response to the outbreak of the Zika virus in Caribbean countries. The virus has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Conscious of its potential economic and social impact, the Council gave instructions for an appropriate financial allocation to be urgently made from the Intra-ACP resources of the 11th European Development Fund to address the crisis.
The ministers also agreed on a resolution on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAS) between the ACP regions and the European Union.
The Caribbean is the only region to have ratified a full regional agreement, which is currently being implemented. Three others – West Africa, East African Community, and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) EPA group – have signed but not ratified.
Amongst several key decisions and resolutions, the ACP Council of Ministers welcomed the report by the Eminent Persons Group, chaired by former President of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, entitled “A New Vision for our Future – A 21st century African, Caribbean and Pacific Group delivering for its Peoples.”
The report, resulting from more than two years of research, consultations and reflection, includes recommendations to reform the organisation and reposition it as a more effective international force on the global scene.
The report will be tabled at the 8th ACP Summit in Papua New Guinea.
The Council also encouraged Member States to participate in the upcoming UNCTAD XIV, (the 14th UN Conference on Trade and Development) on 17-22 July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The ACP Council of Ministers also adopted a resolution directing the ACP Secretariat to take steps to support Member States in negotiating improved bilateral Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements with the EU.
In a separate resolution, the Council welcomed several developments in the ongoing EU talks on sugar, including assurances that the EU Safeguard Mechanism will not be applied automatically, and that the EU will not impose any mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) for sugar.
Ministers further insisted that no intervention is made to increase the supply of sugar within the EU which could undermine the fragile recovery in sugar prices in some ACP Member States.
Additionally, the Council of Ministers discussed the territorial tensions between Belize and Guatemala, as well as between Guyana and Venezuela, with Ministers confirming their support for the territorial integrity of ACP Member States in these disputes.