The Council of Ministers of the 79-member African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group concluded its 103rd meeting in Dakar, Senegal yesterday. Both the ACP and the European Union are currently in a period of reflection on the future of ACP-EU relations post 2020 when the Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires. A twin issue for ACP member states is how to transform the tri-continental grouping into a modern global actor. In this regard, ACP member states welcomed the much-anticipated report of the ACP Eminent Persons Group. The EPG was launched in March 2013.
Charged with the mandate of reviewing the ACP as an international organisation, the EPG is headed by former Nigerian President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and comprised of former high level government officials, academics and business leaders from across the ACP’s six regions, including former President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo. The EPG’s report entitled “A New Vision for our Future – A 21st century African, Caribbean and Pacific Group delivering for its Peoples” will be on the agenda at the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of Government which will take place in Papua New Guinea this May 30th-June 1st.
According to the official ACP Secretariat press release following the meeting, ACP Ministers also discussed and took decisions on a wide range of other trade and development related topics, including Zika, trade for development, fisheries, sugar, inter alia.Importantly, the Council has called on the EU to exercise greater flexibility in the outstanding EPA negotiations with ACP regions which have not yet concluded EPA negotiations with the EU; Central Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and the Pacific. So far CARIFORUM is the only ACP sub-grouping which has ratified a full EPA with the EU, while the West Africa, East African Community, and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) EPA group have signed more limited agreements.
At the meeting, CARIFORUM states Guyana and Belize requested ACP assistance with their long-running border disputes with Venezuela and Guatemala, respectively. Both disputes have seen escalation in tensions in recent months. The latest flare up involves the fatal shooting of a Guatemalan teenager by Belizean forces in a border community between the two countries last week and charges by Belize that Guatemala is amassing troops along the border, prompting a visit by head of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, to both countries.
The final texts of the decisions and resolutions of this meeting will soon be available on the ACP’s website.
The full press release on meeting is available on the ACP website here.
Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.