Seychelles defends its interests at ACP and ACP-EU Ministerial Meetings in Dakar, Senegal
The 41stJoint ACP-EU Council of Ministers closed on 29th May in Dakar, Senegal, after two days of deliberations. The meeting was preceded by the 103rdsession of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Council of Ministers. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Barry Faure, representing Foreign Minister Joel Morgan, has said that the meetings had presented an opportunity for Seychelles to defend its interests on a wide range of issues from climate change and fisheries to trade, financing for development and Small Island Developing States, amongst numerous other subjects of concern to the ACP.
The main focus of the ACP Council was to prepare for the 8thSummit of the ACP Heads of State and Government scheduled to take place in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, from 31stMay to 1stJune 2016, under the theme 'Repositioning the ACP Group to respond to the challenges of Sustainable Development”. With regard to ACP-EU relations Post 2020, Faure pointed out the need to develop a more robust and prosperous cooperation framework, with the aim of promoting sustainable development for the benefit of all ACP states, irrespective of size, geographic location and development status. The Port Moresby Summit will thus be an historic opportunity for our Heads of State and Government to reset the ACP Group after 2020.
During the Joint ACP-EU Council, Seychelles called on the EU to resume the ESA-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations which had stalled since 2011. Given the lack of new market access offers from the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region, the European Commission (EC) has been insisting on a critical mass of market access offers before full EPA negotiations can resume, whereas ESA Council has communicated to the EC its decision to allow interim EPA countries (Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe) to proceed to negotiate for a deeper and broader interim EPA. It is expected that talks with the EC would finally resume on a new footing in the near future.
On a brighter note, the Joint ACP-EU Council adopted a Seychelles proposal for the Intra ACP Work Programme 2016-2017 to include a study to define a Vulnerability and Resilience Index which was one of the outcomes of the Third International Conference on SIDS (Samoa, December 2014). The study is expected to feed into a new and moe favourable mechanism that the EC has proposed, in replacement of the Vulnerability Flex mechanism, to assist ACP states that are affected by exogenous shocks to their economies, to include additional factors like natural disasters and the drop in food prices.
Seychelles also participated in the Development Finance Ministerial Committee where it pushed for a study on innovative financing to be initiated by the ACP at the earliest in view of the need to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) — a global framework for financing development post-2015 — and the need to deliver on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
On fisheries, Seychelles added its voice and pen to a Fisheries Resolution adopted by the ACP Council, to ensure amongst other things, that: (a) consideration be given to fisheries as one of the climate-sensitive areas under the 11thEuropean Development (EDF) Intra-ACP Indicative Programme; and (b) the issues regarding fisheries subsidies and Special and Differential Treatment (which failed to be taken up during the 10th WTO Ministerial Council held in Nairobi in December 2015) are effectively pursued and included in the Post-Nairobi work programme.
Seychelles delegation to the ACP meetings also comprised of Seychelles Ambassador to the EU in Brussels, Selby Pillay.