Strasbourg, 2 December 2014/ ACP: The epidemic that has killed more than 6,000 people in several countries in West Africa has put into focus the fragility of developing economies in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP countries).

At the 28th session of the Joint Assembly of ACP and European Parliamentarians, the Co-Chair Hon. Fitz Jackson from Jamaica highlighted the grim long term economic and social impacts of the Ebola outbreak in the affected countries.(Read full speech)

“The World Bank estimates that the Liberian economy has declined by US$113 million as a result of the crisis; Sierra Leone by US$95 million and Guinea by US$120 million… the disease, if not successfully contained could cost the West African economy by about US$3.5 billion in 2015,” he told politicians from nearly 100 countries from Europe and the ACP regions.

“The Ebola crisis has also further exposed the fragility of ACP economies, and demonstrates the dangers of differentiation – that is, restructuring assistance programmes based on GDP criteria.”

Mr. Jackson argued that although developing countries may show progress and macroeconomic growth – even graduating to “Middle Income” status – shocks such as epidemics or natural disasters could wreak havoc on vulnerable economies that have not built economic resilience.

Mr. Jackson echoed the call of the United States for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cancel debts owed by the severely affected countries.

Meanwhile, his counterpart from the European Parliament, Co-Chair Hon. Louis Michel decried the travel restrictions imposed on the affected countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea), which has “wiped out much regional trade”. He estimated that economic growth in West Africa will take years to recover.

“The EU and its member states, as well as other countries in the region, must take action in order to promote economic recovery. The families of the victims are the first in line for support, of course, but the long-term economic impact of this outbreak should be the focus for our institutions as well.”

The European Commission has pledged over EUR 550 million to global efforts against the outbreak. Together with assistance from the European member states, this totals an overall contribution of over EUR 1.1 billion from the EU.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly is expected to vote on a resolution on the Ebola epidemic on 3 December 2014, which includes a call for an International Donors’ Conference on control of Ebola outbreaks and support for post-Ebola social and economic reconstruction.

(Photo: ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Co-Chairs Hon. Louis Michel and Hon. Fitz Jackson/ European Parliament AudioVisual Library)

– ACP Press

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