Eurozone’s low GDP growth pulls down African economy
The ministers’ council urged the review of the impact of the new sugar regime and free trade agreements on ACP sugar supplying countries. (Image: Neurope)
A struggling Eurozone and its adverse impact on the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) economies were the focal point of the discussion of the ACP Council.
The ministerial meeting on the occasion of the 98th session of the ACP Council was held at Brussels on December 10, 2013.
With the European Union, one of their main trading partners, facing a severe economic recession at only 0.5% economic growth, the economic bloc is representing a threat to growth in the ACP nations, the ACP Council noted.
A review strategy is needed for the ACP region to recover from this situation, the Council stated.
Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Samoa in the Pacific Islands, said that remediating from this European situation would require twice the efforts by European leaders to bring the world’s largest economic trading bloc back on the path of sustained growth.
He also added that the ACP Council needs to become more globally significant and that the ACP members are dedicated to reach an agreement with the EU.
Importantly from Mauritius’ perspective, the ministers’ council insisted on EU policy coherence in trade, agriculture and development, and urged the review of the impact of the new sugar regime and free trade agreements on ACP sugar supplying countries.
Following this thrust on the sugar sector, ACP sugar officials have settled an action plan to boost the sector as a driver of economic growth, and engage with difficulties linked to the abolition of EU’s sugar quotas in 2017.
Concerning the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the EU, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Zimbabwe have approved the interim EPAs with trade provisions while other countries within the region have not confirmed.
The deadline to conclude the negotiations is set till October 2014 by the EU.
Besides the sugar sector, several key issues like the Post-2015 global development programme followed by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been discussed.
The Post-2015 development agenda is centered on social, economic and environmental development.
There should be transparency, coherence and accountability; sustainable use of natural resources; access to finance and technology, infrastructure and human resources to drive inclusive and sustainable growth; as well as the promotion and protection of ACP member states’ right to development.
Factors such as poverty, deprivation, youth unemployment, social injustice, conflicts and poor governance could become a breeding ground for fundamentalism and extremism and the ministers’ council is calling for a long term to reduce poverty through education programmes.
There are 79 countries across Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific which are members of the ACP Council, and together they tackle poverty reduction, sustainable economic development and integration of the member states into the world economic system.