Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Elizabeth Morgan | ACP-EU post-Cotonou talks off to a start

Published:Wednesday | October 10, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Reports coming out of Europe last weekend indicate that the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)-European Union (EU) post-Cotonou negotiations commenced on Friday, September 28 in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

A brief published by Euratv on September 27 had stated that the negotiations were set to commence on the 28th and informed that the African Union (AU) had not received approval for its all-Africa position. Recently, the Africans, at a special meeting in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, had decided to negotiate within the ACP structure. Apparently, the northern and southern Africans had not supported the AU position.

A press release was issued by the EU on September 28 titled 'Factsheet: Political Negotiations on a new ACP-EU Partnership' to start today in New York. The release states that the EU's lead negotiator is the commissioner for international development and cooperation, Neven Mimica, and the lead negotiator for the ACP is Chief Prof Robert Dussey, minister of foreign affairs, cooperation and African integration of Togo.

It will be recalled that the ACP and ACP-EU Council Meetings were held in Togo in May, chaired by Jamaica. At that meeting, Minister Dussey was appointed chair of the ACP Central Negotiating Group (CNG). The other members of the CNG are Guyana, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Lesotho, and Nigeria.

The EU press release further states that negotiations will take place in both the EU and ACP regions, and should be completed well before the Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in February 2020. It is thus expected that the negotiations will be concluded by the summer of 2019. The new agreement will be for a period of 20 years. The EU, also in this release, has set out its priorities for an agreement with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

The EU seems quite prepared for these negotiations and is clearly in the driving seat.

The ACP Secretariat website shows that the current chair of the ACP Council and ACP Committee of Ambassadors is Chad, from August 1, 2018 to January 31, 2019. Jamaica remains on the ACP Bureau. It appears that St Lucia is now the current chair of the Caribbean Forum of ACP States (CARIFORUM).

It would be useful to have the ACP-CARIFORUM perspective now that these negotiations have formally commenced.

- Elizabeth Morgan is an international trade policy specialist. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.