The ACP Council of Ministers,
meeting in Brussels, (Belgium), on 24th and 25th November 2015
A. Having regard to the Report of the Committee of Ambassadors – Doc ACP/26/081/15 Rev 1;
B. Having regard to the outcome and follow-up on issues arising from the 18th Ministerial Trade Committee and the 13th Joint ACP-EU Ministerial Trade Committee meetings held from 22 – 26 June 2015 as well as the ACP Ministers of Trade meeting held on 20 – 21 October 2015 – Doc ACP/61/047/15 Rev 2
C. Having regard to the Report of the Secretary-General – ACP/11/002/15 Rev 1;
D. Having regard to the draft minutes of the 13TH Meeting of the Joint ACP-EU Ministerial Trade Committee – Doc ACP/61/076/15 and ACP-UE 2120/1;
E. Having regard to the outcome document of the United Nations Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, entitled Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
F. Whereas the key objective of the bilateral ACP-EU trade relations enshrined in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement is to contribute to the transformation of the economies of ACP States, improve competitiveness, promote sustainable development, and thereby reduce poverty with a view to its eradication and to improve ACP’s share of world trade;
G. Recalling that the ACP and the EU set out to negotiate EPAs intended to be instruments of development for ACP States;
H. Whereas to date, the CARIFORUM region is implementing a full EPA and has embarked on the first five-yearly review; the ESA four countries , plus Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Papua New Guinea and Fiji are implementing interim EPAs; and the SADC EPA Group, the East Africa Community and West Africa have completed negotiations of full EPAs and plan to sign and ratify the agreements by October 2016;
I. Noting that a majority of ACP States remain outside the EPA framework and are trading under the EU’s GSP Everything but Arms, GSP normal or Most favoured Nation (MFN) terms;
J. Concerned that the EU has concluded or is engaged in negotiations of FTAs with third countries that compete with ACP suppliers with the result that benefits from preferences that would have accrued from EPAs and other EU trade arrangements available for ACP States are eroded;
K. Whereas the Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference will take place from 15 – 18 December 2015 in an ACP capital – Nairobi, Kenya – for the first time in the organizations 20 year history; and
L. Recalling the importance of trade related capacity building at the all-ACP level to address multilateral and global trade policy issues and challenges:
Resolves to
1. Reiterate that the conclusion and implementation of EPAs must be balanced with a view to speeding up the sustainable and inclusive development of the ACP States through, inter alia, improving competitiveness and the strengthening of regional integration of ACP States.
2. Re-affirm the need for additional EU resources to be endowed in specially set up EPA Funds, and augment aid for trade financing, so as to provide dedicated and predictable resources to address the supply side constraints, build productive capacities, improve competitiveness as well as finance EPA related costs.
3. Call on the EU to speed up negotiations with the remaining regions by taking full account of the interests and addressing concerns of the countries involved, many of which are LDCs and vulnerable small economies.
4. Instruct the Secretary-General to establish an effective coordination, monitoring and supportive mechanism for EPAs.
5. Urge the EU to respect provisions of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement by safeguarding preference benefits accrued to ACP States in EPAs and GSP Schemes when negotiating free trade agreements with third parties.
6. Call for effective implementation of SDGs, particularly Goal 17 – “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development” – in a balanced manner that, inter alia, safeguards and builds on the trade related gains made under the Millennium Development Goals ensures.
7. Stress the need for the design of appropriate programmes and activities in the context of implementation of SDGs as well as the 11th EDF, including an extension of the current TBT Programme or a new second phase of the Programme.
8. Endorse the ACP Group declaration on the Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference adopted by the ACP Ministers of Trade; affirm our support to Kenya in its organization and hosting the Conference; and to encourage ACP Ministers to participate in large numbers.
9. Invites the President of Council to forward this resolution to the European Commission, Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the ACP regional integration organizations.
Brussels, 25th November 2015