The ACP Summit is being held from 8 to 10 December 2019 in Nairobi. The Mauritius delegation is led by the Hon. Nandcoomar Bodha, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade. The Summit is preceded by the ACP Council. A guiding theme of the Summit is the transformation of the ACP from a group into an international organisation, better equipped to face the post Cotonou era and the current challenges to multilateralism.
At the Ministerial Consultations in the morning of 6th December on the revision of the Georgetown Agreement, Hon. Bodha hailed the revision as milestone in the necessary transformation of the ACP Group into an organisation:
"This transformation is timely and necessary. Our relations as a group with our traditional partner, the European Union, will be significantly altered through the Post Cotonou Agreement. The proactive roles that our regional organisations will be called upon to play, the diversity of challenges and opportunities and their complex interlinks as well as the different levels of development of each of the ACP states indicate that the ACP as a group needs a more dynamic framework"
He welcomed the proposal for the creation of a structure for the SIDS Forum.
Hon. Bodha then chaired the 12th ACP Ministerial Consultation on Agriculture Value Chains. In his opening remarks, he called for the rebalancing of global value chains in commodity markets and for actions to help commodity dependent countries to better position themselves on value chains. He stressed the need for the ACP to move forward on our engagement vis-a-vis the EU, so that we may look beyond the Voluntary Coupled Support issue and try a more constructive approach.
During the consultations, Mauritius took the floor on behalf of the sub-committee on sugar and called for an additional financial package to further diversify the agricultural sectors of ACP countries. It was highlighted that sugar is an integral part of our cultural and ecological tourism, and of our socio-economic set up.
In the afternoon of 6 December, Hon. Bodha attended the Joint Meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Development Finance and the Ministerial Ad Hoc Group on Tax Matters . Upon taking the floor, the Hon. Minister noted that on the positive side, at least there now exists a political dialogue with the EU on the issue of listings. However, the present situation whereby the EU lists some ACP jurisdictions as being non cooperative remains alarming, especially in view of the lack of clarity of the criteria used. Hon. Bodha stressed that our best efforts and willingness can lead to nowhere if no international standards are agreed upon for the criteria to assess tax jurisdictions. He then proposed that:
i) on the basis of mutual respect and equity, the EU should inform the ACP of the criteria on which the tax jurisdictions are being assessed
ii) once ACP jurisdictions are aware of the criteria, there should be a moratorium for their implementation, so as to give time for changes in legislations.
The proposals made by Mauritius were supported by South Africa and Seychelles and were positively noted by the Chairperson of the Meeting.
The Hon. Minister afterwards attended a meeting of the Central Negotiating Group, which is in charge of negotiations on Post Cotonou.
In his statement to the meeting, the Hon. Minister commented on two unresolved issues, namely the concept of 'responsible investments' and the coordination platform for the Economic Partnership Agreement. He noted that while the notion of responsible investment is of great importance to ensure sustainable and ecologically friendly investment, it should not ultimately lead to further barriers to trade and investment. Also, the cost of eco-friendly investment is quite high. The post-Cotonou agreement should include provisions for the sharing of the burden of ensuring eco-friendly investment.
On the issue of the coordination platform, the Hon. Minister reiterated the importance of the Economic Partnership Agreement as an essential framework for cooperation, particularly for SIDS. However, the economic growth objective of the EPA could be derailed by Non-Tariff Barriers. Mauritius therefore fully supports the proposal for the establishment of a coordination platform in which post-Cotonou signatory states can express the challenges they are facing.
The Hon. Minister also called for synergy and coherence in the negotiation process between the three regional protocols being negotiated for the three regions of the ACP (that is, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific). Such synergy is of vital importance to ensure the future unity of the ACP in the post-Cotonou phase.