GIS – 13 December, 2019: The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States has now become a multilateral organisation which will be called upon to play a more defined role on the international front. This transformation will enable the ACP Group to better tackle numerous challenges such as climatic change, migration, maritime security, piracy, and financial services.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Nandcoomar Bodha, was speaking during a press conference, at the seat of the Ministry in Port Louis, on the outcomes of his participation at the 9th Summit of the ACP Group of States held in Nairobi, Kenya. The Summit, hosted on 9 and 10 December 2019, brought together 17 Heads of State including Kenya, Ghana, Jamaica, Rwanda, Mozambique, Barbados, Seychelles. The event was preceded by the 110th session of the ACP Council of Ministers, which met in the same city from 6 to 8 December 2019.
Mr Bodha recalled that several pressing issues were discussed during the Summit namely non-compliant tax jurisdictions, evaluation criteria of the European Union (EU), post-Cotonou agreements, agricultural value chain, maritime security, climatic change, maritime connectivity, and the challenges faced by Small Islands Developing States.
The Foreign Affairs Minister added that in a spirit of partnership of mutual respect and equity, the ACP Group called on the EU to refrain from blacklisting ACP countries without clearly establishing evaluation criteria and to give States time to comply with these criteria. More importantly, and in a spirit of multilateralism and inclusiveness, we called for the creation of an intergovernmental tax body within the United Nations framework that would govern international tax jurisdictions, he said.
Another issue discussed during the Summit was the agricultural value chain. In that context, Mr Bodha underlined that he was called upon to chair the Ministerial consultations on the development of the agricultural derivatives chain, including the challenges faced by ACP States in exporting their traditional products. In the case of Mauritius and many other ACP States, commodities are mainly linked to sugar, while for others they are cotton and cocoa.
He spoke, during his presidency, on the challenges facing the ACP sugar-producing States as a result of the steady decline in world prices. This sector, he said, must therefore be strengthened and we have called for a new financial package for ACP sugar-producing countries to enable the countries concerned to further diversify the agricultural sector and effectively develop the agricultural and sugar value chain.
Speaking about the post-Cotonou agreements, Mr Bodha underlined that Mauritius is in the group of 24 members for ACP EU negotiations adding that the ACP Group is currently engaged in a negotiation process with the EU for a new agreement to succeed the current Cotonou Agreement, which will expire in February 2020.
Furthermore, the Minister highlighted that, at the request of Mauritius, the Summit called for strong coordination between ACP States to combat transnational crime and threats to maritime security. The Summit recognised the importance of developing connectivity and digitisation for the development of ACP countries, in particular small island states.
Speaking about the Chagos Archipelago issue, he stated that the ACP Group is extending full support to Mauritius with regard to the Declaration. He recalled that the final Declaration unanimously called on the United Kingdom to respect international law through the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and the United Nations resolutions that urged the United Kingdom to end its illegal administration of the Chagos Islands.
Reinforcing of bilateral relations
Minister Bodha added that the Summit was an opportunity for Mauritius to strengthen its bilateral ties with ACP member countries. It is within this context that he had meetings with Ministers from Tanzania, Kenya, Comoros, Cuba, Ghana, Barbados, Mozambique, and the Fiji Islands. Discussions focused on the future of sugar, climate change, opportunities for strengthening economic ties, exchange projects, and the establishment of dialogue groups at international conferences.
9th ACP Summit
The Summit, themed “A Transformed ACP: Committed to Multilateralism” highlighted the importance of multilateralism. The Summit finally adopted a very forward-looking declaration, the Nguvu ya Pamoja Declaration. Nguvu ya Pamoja is a Kiswahili expression meaning "Strength through solidarity".
ACP Summits take place on average, every three years in an ACP Member State. They give ACP leaders from the 79-member ACP Group an opportunity to review the major developments of interest and concern to its members on the international scene in general, and in ACP States in particular.
Kenya took over the presidency of the ACP Group at the 9th ACP Summit of Heads of State and Government for a period of three years.
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