This will form an integral part of an African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP)/European Union (EU) post Cotonou Agreement.
The Cotonou Agreement currently governing ACP-EU relations is due to expire in 2020. Negotiations on a new ACP-EU partnership were launched in New York on September 28, 2018, in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.
The Regional Consultation on Post-Cotonou negotiations opened at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on April 15.
In her remarks, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, noted that the long-standing Cotonou Agreement, “which defines the political, economic, and development parameters of the partnership between our group of states, must now also be modernised to the benefit of both the (ACP and EU)”.
She said that in the context of an evolving global environment, the new agreement that is now being negotiated will need to be aligned with the current realities of ACP developing countries and anchored in the implementation of Agenda 2030 and its sustainable development goals.
“We should not lose sight of the fact that this regional consultation is the start of the ongoing wider ACP negotiations with the EU. Over the last six months the ACP has completed two rounds of negotiations with the European Union on the foundation of the post Cotonou Agreement,” Senator Johnson Smith said.
“It is our expectation that the eventual agreement will be forward-looking and aspirational in outlook. Forming a new partnership with the EU with the interest of developing countries will be placed squarely at the forefront,” she added.
Senator Johnson Smith further said that, more importantly, “we continue to advocate for an agreement that maintains a sustainable and predictable financing mechanism, thereby ensuring the continuity of viable projects within member countries of the ACP that are instrumental in sustaining the economic viability of the small states of the region”.
For his part, Secretary-General, CARICOM and CARIFORUM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, said that the EU is one of the Region’s most valued partners.
“We are embarking on an ambitious programme which involves two sets of simultaneous negotiations. While it is important that we progress equally on both fronts, it is equally important to note that the Regional Protocol cannot be finalised before completion of the Foundation Agreement. This is to ensure consistency and policy coherence,” he explained.
“These negotiations present us with an opportunity to forge an agreement to reflect changing times, new challenges and current developments. In so doing, we must take into account global realities and developments. These include the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he added.
Ambassador LaRocque said that negotiations must take into account the increasing economic, social, climatic and environmental vulnerabilities of CARIFORUM states; their high level of per-capita debt; the difficulties they continue to experience in financing their own development; and their desire to build resilience to those vulnerabilities.
“The negotiations will be centred on a number of strategic priority areas. One of those will be regional integration and cooperation, which is a fundamental element of our development policies,” he noted.
The CARIFORUM group represents the Caribbean in the ACP, and the EU is a major trading partner of many ACP states, including Jamaica, as well as a main source of grant funding.
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