Uhuru promises to fight for friendlier ACP-EU agreement

By Noel Wandera
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
President Uhuru Kenyatta receives instruments of power from Papua New Guinea deputy Premier Steven Davis when he took over the chairmanship of the Africa Caribbean and Pacific economic bloc during the ninth ACP summit in Nairobi. Photo/PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday said Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) economic bloc and the EU was unfavourable and had not achieved its objective of improving trade between the two economic blocs.

The President, who assumed the presidency of the 79-member ACP bloc for a three-year term after Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape, said ACP’s experience with EPAs was mixed.

“As you all know, our experience with EPAs has been mixed and this arrangement is yet to achieve its stated objective of helping our countries pull out of the vicious cycle of low trading volumes and low value transactions,” said Uhuru.

The current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement was signed on June 23, 2000 in Cotonou, Benin. It was concluded for a 20-year period and will expire in February 2020.

The relationship, which brings into equation 100 countries with 1.5 billion people and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $1.5 trillion (Sh152.4 trillion), was geared towards poverty eradication, sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy.

“Through this partnership, ACP States have had access to predictable development financing, especially from European Development Fund, but furthermore, the EU remains one of our key destinations for exports,” said Uhuru.

Mutual prosperity

The President said ACP countries looked forward to a Post-Cotonou Partnership arrangement that was more balanced, gave priority to emerging opportunities, especially in e-commerce and services, apart from assuring member States of equitable and sustainable growth to ensure mutual prosperity.

The summit comes at an auspicious time for the ACP Group as it prepares to finalise the Post-Cotonou negotiations as well as the revision to its Constitutive Act, the Georgetown Agreement of 1975.

“It is my hope that the revised Georgetown agreement, to be placed before us for consideration and adoption, will re-invigorate our group, giving us more dynamism, vision  and fresh impetus and drive at the same time,” said Uhuru.

The summit was to sign what was to be referred to as the Nairobi Declaration that will focus on three sub-themes; global governance in regards to peace, openness, transparency and accountability to the people; climate change and intra-ACP cooperation.

Uhuru said since the formation of ACP/EU partnership 44 years ago, global dynamics have changed, with competing geopolitical interests, new challenges to peace and unprecedented constraints to free movement of people.

However, despite the challenges, he said, ACP group of countries has continued to thrive and stands out as the world’s largest transcontinental formal organisation.

He said under his stewardship, Kenya will seek to promote and protect the interests of the group at the regional, continental and international levels.

“I will also champion the group’s solidarity and unity; advocate for an enhanced intra-ACP and South-South and triangular cooperation; champion a reform agenda for the ACP; push for the integration of our States into the global economy, as well as the conclusion and implementation of the new partnership agreement,” he said.

He said there was need to accelerate the implementation of structural reforms and policies and infrastructural development, “targeted at fostering industrial development and diversification of our economies.”