The ACP Group Council of Ministers 105th session in Brussels
BRUSSELS, 05 MAY 2017/ACP: The Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States closed its 105th session with two key decisions that will influence how the bloc of 79 countries will carve out a more effective role in the international arena.
The future of the ACP Group, including its future relations with the EU, led the agenda, which also included a range of other issues such as development finance, trade and commodities, political and humanitarian matters, and the implementation of various development programmes in areas like climate change, private sector development, agriculture, and education amongst others.
“Following the decisions taken by our Heads of State and Government at their 7th and 8th Summits in 2012 and 2016 respectively, we have received clear marching orders to undertake the reforms needed to transform the ACP Group into an effective global player, fit for the 21st century, and responsive to the emerging priorities of our Member States,” said the President of Council, the Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation of Ethiopia Hon. Dr. Abraham Tekeste.
“We must therefore do more to advance and strengthen intra-ACP cooperation, especially through South-South Cooperation, and to ensure a more balanced partnership with Europe based on shared values and mutual respect. At the same time, we must take steps to diversify our partnerships and strengthen the self-financing capacity of the Group by introducing innovative financing mechanisms.”
After two days of deliberations from the 3rd to 4th of May, the Council took three major decisions:
The Council decided to mandate the Committee of Ambassadors to review the Georgetown Agreement – the founding document of the organisation – while taking into account relevant decisions of the ACP Summits and Council of Ministers, as well as the policy framework document “Towards the ACP we want”, which was also approved in principle by the Council.
The Council approved, in principle, three priority areas to guide future programmes and activities of the Group post-2020, namely:
- Trade, investment, industrialisation and services;
• Development cooperation, technology, science and innovation/research; and
• Political dialogue and advocacy.
These will be further refined by the Committee of Ambassadors.
The Council also approved, in principle, the processes, modalities and substance for negotiations with the EU for a successor partnership agreement. The current ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement closes in 2020, and formal negotiations for a follow-up framework are due in 2018.
The Committee of Ambassadors were mandated to constitute a central negotiating group and technical negotiating groups to determine core guiding principles such as negotiating as one, securing a legally binding agreement, the single undertaking principle and maintaining the acquis of the Cotonou Agreement.
A third decision reaffirmed solidarity with the People and Government of Haiti, in light of recent natural disasters that devastated the nation. The ACP Council will dispatch a small delegation to Haiti to identify projects that could be supported by the ACP Group under the 11th European Development Fund.
In addition to these decisions the Council passed two resolutions:
Resolution on ACP Agricultural Commodity Trade and Sector Development
The Council made pronouncements on bananas, sugar, cotton, and cashew, welcoming the New Approach on support to development of Agricultural Value Chains, which targets small producers. Ministers cited concerns with trade agreements made by the European Union with competitors of ACP banana and sugar-producing countries, calling for minimum tariff rate quotas for banana and sugar imports. The Council called on the EU for collaboration to ensure minimal negative effects on ACP-EU trade, due to the impending departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union (“Brexit”).
Resolution on ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreements
The Council reaffirmed its commitment to enhance ACP-EU trade relations, while appealing to the European Union to show flexibility in responding to concerns from ACP countries. This includes challenges in negotiations with Central Africa, Eastern Africa, and the Pacific. The Council reiterated concerns about the effects of Brexit negotiations on trade with ACP countries. It welcomed the ACP-EU Joint Ministerial Trade Committee meeting to be held on 20 October 2017, and called upon members to exhaustively tackle EPA concerns.
The 105th session of the ACP Council of Ministers is followed by the 42nd ACP-EU Joint Council of Ministers which takes place today.