By Robert Johnson
BRUSSELS (IDN) – The heads of government and state of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States have taken a decisive step towards “A Transformed ACP Committed to Multilateralism”. At their 9th Summit, they have revised the constitutive act, the 1975 Georgetown Agreement.
An important outcome of the December 9-10 Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, is a name change from the ACP Group of States to the Organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (OACPS).
Since September 2018, the ACP Group has been engaged in negotiations with its long-standing partner, the European Union for the Post-Cotonou Agreement. It will replace the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (CPA), a treaty between the European Union and the ACP countries, signed in June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin’s largest city, for a 20-year period from 2000 to 2020.
It is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU. Since 2000, it has been the framework for EU’s relations with 79 ACP states. In 2010, ACP-EU cooperation was adapted to new challenges such as climate change, food security, regional integration, state fragility and aid effectiveness.
Together, the ACP countries and the EU account for over 1.5 billion people. The resolutions for a transformed ACP emerging from the Summit will have an impact on millions of lives across Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Europe. It also provides the opportunity to rejuvenate the EU’s relationship with its ACP partners, taking into account the current global context.
The Nairobi Declaration (Nairobi Nguvu ya Pamoja Declaration) lays out the ACP Group’s position on issues such as multilateralism, good governance, peace and security and environmental sustainability and climate change, among others.
Over the years, the Group extended its range of activities. Since then, cooperation among its members has gone beyond development cooperation with the European Union and covers a variety of fields spanning trade, economics, politics and culture, in diverse international fora such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
A Joint Communication on a renewed partnership with the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific proposes the building blocks for a new partnership with ACP countries.
The new partnership is built on: UN 2030 Agenda, which sets out the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy; and Coherence with the European Consensus on Development.
The Communication also takes into account the outcome of the joint consultation ‘Towards a New Partnership between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries after 2020’ published in the summary report in March 2016 and the findings of the evaluation of the first 15 years of the CPA.
An impact assessment of the Communication provides a thorough analysis of the most relevant possible scenarios ahead and identifies a preferred way forward that best serves identified EU interests.
In the on goings between the ACP Group and the European Union, particularly in 2018, the outgoing ACP Secretary General Dr. P.I. Gomes played a crucial role. In his closing statement, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya extended special thanks and appreciation to Dr. Gomes “for his exemplary leadership”.
President Kenyatta added: “Indeed, his leadership enabled him and his team to confer professional counsel to the Summit, and to effectively, coordinate our work. As he transitions out of office next year, we the ACP Leaders, wish him the very best his future endeavors.”
The Summit endorsed the appointment of a new ACP Secretary General, Ambassador Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, from the Republic of Angola, who had agreed “to restructure the ACP Secretariat, to make it more agile and fit for purpose”.
President Kenyatta expressed confidence that “given his expansive experience as a senior diplomat, the Secretary General Designate is the ideal choice and better positioned to effectively serve our ACP fraternity”.
A significant of aspect of the Summit is that most of the speakers emphasized the “need to urgently establish air and sea trading routes between our brothers and sisters in the Pacific and in the Caribbean and here in Africa”. This, in his view, presented a clear opportunity for private sector players to be champions.
The air and sea trading link would be a first step towards the realization of our long-term goal of increasing ACPs’ share of global trade from the current 3% to over 10% over the next ten years. “This way we can leverage on our combined economic strength,” President Kenyatta said. [IDN-InDepthNews – 23 December 2019]
Photo: The outgoing ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick Gomez confers with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya during the presentation of the revised Georgetown agreement. Credit: ACP
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
facebook.com/IDN.GoingDeeper – twitter.com/InDepthNews