H.E. Mrs. Vilma McNish, Ambassador of Jamaica
H.E. Dr. Patrick Gomes, Secretary General of ACP,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to address you as representatives of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states this morning. Allow me to take this opportunity to thank your chairperson Madam Vilma McNish for inviting me to address you. I feel greatly honoured by this invitation and thank you for finding time to come.
My country has a long history of cooperation with the ACP. My Government and I attach immense importance to the work carried out by the ACP. Kenya has always participated actively in the activities of the Group. It is only recently in 2014 when I welcomed the ACP family to Nairobi for the 99th Council of Ministers meeting and the 39th Joint ACP- EU council. Late last year I was gratified to note the tremendous role you played in the preparations for the WTO MC10 and the energy you put into the negotiations process that shaped the outcome document. I encourage you to carry on this critical role to ensure our voice is heard in all global fora.
Our shared history, cultural and economic similarities led to the establishment of the ACP Group in Georgetown in 1975 through a process of bonding among delegations from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific regions that began in 1973 when negotiations for the Lome Convention commenced. Recognising the commonality of our circumstances and the inextricable link in our destinies, these delegations coordinated and harmonised their positions in negotiations with the European Economic Community.
Since then, the ACP partnership has continuously grown through the successive Lome Conventions and currently the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. The ACP was conceptualized to enhance economic, political and cultural dialogue not only between ACP countries and the European Union (EU) but also amongst ACP countries themselves. In this day of increased globalization, the importance of this partnership cannot be underrated given our shared principles and traditions and the common aspirations of our people.
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
The impact of the development cooperation efforts with the European Union has been limited despite the elaborate mechanisms in place. For instance, less than half of the allocated European Development Fund (EDF) resources end up being disbursed. We can only attribute this to conditionalities and other bureaucratic requirements. On the trade front, it is apparent that the current regime has not met the expectations in ACP countries.
The share of ACP exports to the EU has declined over the years. In addition, ACP countries’ exports are limited to a few primary products. Our respective countries have long been a source of unprocessed raw materials and produce to the global market. We can only blame the ever daunting supply side constraints existing in our countries and the increasingly stringent conformity requirements that keep on piling. Preference erosion is also a major factor in the dismal performance of our products in the EU market. Capacity building assistance is therefore necessary to increase our productivity. Aid for Trade (AfT) will go a long way to address supply-side and trade-related infrastructure obstacles which constrains our ability to engage in international trade.
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Forty years since Georgetown, the ACP partnership is at a critical yet momentous stage as we approach the sunset of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020. As we deliberate on the future of our partnership with the EU and the global community of nations we must take stock of the geopolitical environment in which we find ourselves today. Developments such as the end of the Cold War and the establishment of the WTO resulted in a major policy shift away from the ACP, lessening the appetite for the ACP within the EU. After the end of the Cold War the geopolitical significance of the ACP as a Group diminished as eastward expansion gained momentum.
In view of these developments, we have a responsibility to find a new meaning for our solidarity and strength. This gives us an opportunity to reflect on our history and appreciate our potential, while at the same time underlining the lessons that we can learn from the past for greater prosperity in the future. The ACP Post-2020 debate requires strategic thinking on the way forward. I welcome and commend the various reports and dialogue tools that are currently guiding this debate and highly endorse deeper engagement with the European Union and other interlocutors to ensure that the ACP-EU cooperation initiated by our forefathers continues after 2020 but with a new beginning.
These new set of circumstances notwithstanding, we should continue to ensure that development issues, particularly poverty eradication remains on our agenda. The implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development is critical for us. Linked to this, we should ensure that all honour their commitments arising from the major United Nations Conferences and Summits.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have undertaken new aspirations to create better livelihoods for our people and while we undertake steps at the national level to improve lives and build capacity, we have to be alive to the fact that this global agenda calls for concerted efforts so as to realize a better world for everyone. I call upon the international community to scale up its development support and financing agenda and specifically for the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development which I believe is a major step forward in building a world of prosperity and dignity for all.
Going forward, we firmly believe that the new ACP-EU partnership should be markedly different from the existing framework. It should be based on partnership rather than on patronage, and interdependence rather than dependence. It should lead to the rapid transition of ACP countries from mere suppliers of raw materials and commodities to producers of value added goods. In this regard, the existing pattern of supply and production should be broken. We should curve ourselves a place in global value chains. As a starting point towards this new beginning, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) should be implemented and continually reviewed with development in focus in a manner that reinforces our efforts to develop our productive capacity, and at the same time complement regional economic integration.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Millions of people around the world and more so in our countries continue to live below the poverty line without access to basic necessities. I have just participated in the European Development Days (EDD) under the theme ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’. Sustainable Development remains the bedrock of our diplomatic engagements whether in political, social or economic diplomacy. I believe 2015 marked an essential turning point in our international responsibilities and obligations as global citizens with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015 and thereafter the first ever legally binding climate deal adopted in Paris in December 2015. We can now look to the future with hope and determination. Through these actions our generation will go down in history as the age where we took responsibility for our actions in the interests of future generations. However, the battle has not yet been won as implementation remains an uphill task. We in the ACP fraternity given our level of development and being the most vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change and climate shocks, have a duty to remain focussed and to demand from the rest of the world that it plays its part. We should keep the multilateral system engaged on the implementation of the Paris climate pact.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we enter a new phase of our engagement with the European Union, I speak on the need for value addition to our raw materials before export to the international market. This will ensure that we develop our infant industries and flourish our national economies. I place specific emphasis on fostering partnerships between the public and private sector in our respective countries. The private sector can play a vital role as an important partner in attracting investments and expending economic activities. Innovative mechanisms such as Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) have proved to work well for us in the implementation of public projects. I believe you have taken these and other innovative ideas into account in the future implementation of the ACP private sector development strategy. I urge for increased dialogue on how to strengthen private sector as well as build its capacity, where it is not fully established.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) remains important in and adapting to the ever changing world. Traditionally, ICT from our more developed partners has been viewed as more advanced while our indigenous technology has been relegated to an inferior position. Each of our countries is endowed with indigenous technology that has stood the test of time and with increased research and investment will earn its place in the world. As we buy into the modern methods of ICT, I urge that we imbue indigenous technology into our education system so as to give our nations and especially our youth hope and aspirations for the future.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we celebrate our milestones, set foundations for the future, we must take cognizance of the global threats that continue to undermine our successes. Trans-boundary crimes have continued to be perpetuated across our borders and even between continents. Money laundering, terrorism, trafficking in persons and goods among other social ills occur on a daily basis. The ongoing migration crisis, the attendant loss of lives and suffering calls for urgent action from all sides. The threat of global terrorism and violent extremism has assumed monstrous proportions. We must collectively address the radicalization of the youth as the pipeline for global terror and its financing channels. As ACP Ambassadors’ you must come up with ambitious recommendations on how to mitigate these scourges and engage further with our development partners in establishing solutions.
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In conclusion, I once again applaud the long standing friendship that we have nurtured over the years. We stand together as a community with a common history and vision for the future.
I thank you for your attention.