President of the ACP Council of Ministers,
Honourable Ministers,
Secretary General of the ACP,
Excellency Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking you Madam President for the excellent manner in which you are conducting our proceedings. Allow me too to convey our gratitude to the Government and people of the Republic of Togo for the excellent hospitality that has been extended to the Kenya delegation since our arrival in this beautiful city of Lome.
Madam President,
We have been looking forward to this 107th ACP meeting of the ACP Council of Ministers first as an opportunity to constructively engage and exchange useful views on the very important subject on the successor agreement to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. Secondly is re-affirmation of deliberations and decisions that were reached in Brussels during our previous meeting. My delegation has taken note that the Committee of Ambassadors have given full effect to the directives given by the Council and have circulated documents and annexes touching on each decision. We also have heard from the Secretary General in his eloquent report that a lot of work and commendable consultations with various stakeholders have taken place.
Madam President,
Recalling the origins of ACP and the signing of the historic agreement in Georgetown Guyana on 4th June 1975, the founding members of the ACP committed themselves to establish a platform of like-minded States that would use their numerical strengths to collectively tackle the post-colonial challenges of under-development, marginalization and outright exploitation of our heritage and natural resources. Today, we can look back and proudly take our stand in the international community not only to demonstrate the dividends of our solidarity but to also lay justifiable claim to a seat in the high table of global gatherings including at the UN Security Council.
It is clear that this solidarity has enabled us to successfully navigate the turbulent waters of a complex world. We have formed formidable alliances at the global stage where the ACP group has played critical role in ensuring that our interests individually and collectively are guaranteed. This has been ably demonstrated in the negotiations of the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development (for which Kenya was a co-president), the various Conferences of Parties on Climate Change, the UN High-Level Conferences on Financing for Development, not to mention many international forums on global Peace & Security, Counter-Terrorism , Multilateral Trade and Climate change.
At the World Trade Organization, we have worked together to build confidence in the Multilateral Trading System for the benefit of all our Members. This has come at a time when rules based Multilateral Trading System is facing the greatest threat. We also take note of the re-emergence and re-introduction of protectionism, outright tariff escalation and increased use of administrative barriers. At this point, allow me to extend a message of appreciation to the ACP group for the support accorded to us when Kenya hosted, for the first time in Africa, the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference. As you will recall, the ACP group in Geneva overwhelmingly supported Kenya’s bid which was dubbed Africa bid. In MC10, we managed to achieve a commendable outcome – the Nairobi declaration that concluded some of the most difficult issues of interest to LDCs and other developing countries majority of whom are members of ACP.
Madam President,
Our long journey through the successive Lome conventions and later the two Cotonou Partnership Agreements have given us enough experience on how to extract better deals for our people and at the same time embrace institutional reform, dynamism and continuous transformation. On the positive side, we have witnessed the emergence of e-commerce and blue economy as a phenomenal force that has broken barriers and transformed our economies and which was not foreseen in the Cotonou and previous agreements. Opportunities in Information and Communication Technologies and blue economy have given our youth an opportunity to exercise and benefit from innovation. This is the rationale and basic reason why this Council meeting needs to reaffirm its commitment to a strong ACP.
Madam President,
Kenya would like to appreciate the great efforts that have gone into preparation of initial negotiation mandate for our engagements with the European Union and which we are about to consider and approve.
We recall that our Heads of State and Government have met twice (in Sipopo and in Port Moresby) and have given us guidance on the road to the negotiations. The input of these two summits together with the recommendations of the Group of Eminent Persons (the Obasanjo report) have made their way not only into the draft negotiation mandate but also to the architecture of the negotiations. My delegation has taken note of a consultative meeting that took place yesterday and convened by the Secretary General to exchange views with chief executives of regional integration bodies and organizations from all over the ACP. These emerging consultations should extend to Non-State Actors, private sector as well as the academia.
The Regional Integration Communities have carried the voice of the member states and it is our pleasure to not only welcome this initiative but to provide political support to such meetings when the negotiations are formally launched after summer break. The ultimate objective should be to demonstrate our resolve to come-up with a Post Cotonou agreement that transforms the ACP into a dynamic and effective global player that is ready to rapidly respond to the emerging and diverse global challenges.
Madam President,
My delegation would like to place on record Kenya’s commitment from the highest level to the principles of subsidiarity, complementarity, and proportionality. The Government of Kenya has committed itself to approach the negotiations as a single undertaking. Our long cultural and historical relations with our brothers on the Caribbean and Pacific ought to be strengthened in the new agreement. It is in this regard that we are therefore requesting this council session to extend formal invitation to African Countries that have not signed the George Town Agreement to proceed with haste and do so without any delay.
It is Kenya’s believe that signing the George Town Agreement will amplify Africa Unity, strengthen integration as well as embolden African voice in international engagements. It is in this regard that Kenya has joined the Republic of Ghana to become the first country in Africa to ratify and deposit the ratification instruments of African Continental Free Trade Area.
In conclusion, it is extremely necessary that we carry out an extensive evaluation of the impact of any proposals that would recommend a different architecture of our negotiations with the European Union. Kenya wishes to propose that the Committee of Ambassadors and Secretary General be mandated to provide a paper for consideration by the next Council that will examine the content of any discordant voices to the current process. In the meantime, we submit that the Council proceeds with its process as mandated by our rules of procedure and the jurisprudence that has been bequeathed to the Council meetings.