Brussels, 15 April 2021
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Fourth Estate.
After 5 rounds of negotiations, 10 meetings of Chief negotiators, and numerous exchanges between the OACPS and the EU at technical level, I am pleased to announce that we have concluded the negotiations of a new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement and are ready to initial the new Agreement this evening.
From Apia, Samoa in the Pacific, to Ezulwini in the Kingdom of Eswatini in Africa; and from Kingston, Jamaica in the Caribbean back to N’Djamena, Chad in Africa; and from New York, where the negotiations were formally started two and half years ago to here in Brussels where most meetings have taken place, we have traversed these five diverse parts of the world to craft this Agreement with the European Union and Member States, our key allies and friends. The negotiation process has been a long but worthwhile journey.
The new agreement embodies the ambitions of both Parties to renew the terms of their cooperation and to reposition their partnership around new objectives in a world that has changed profoundly and is constant transformation.
The negotiation process was by no means a process without challenges, but I welcome the final outcome and congratulate all the actors whose work has led to an agreement that includes a common core and three regional protocols.
By taking into account the concerns and expectations of the OACPS states, the new agreement constitutes a solid basis for further reinforcing the already strong relationship with the EU. Together we will work to address global challenges and we will do this in close cooperation with other partners on the world stage.
This partnership is the largest global cooperation framework ever constructed, of EU 27 and ACP 79.
We have re-committed to enhance our long-standing association. We have agreed on a common objective of fostering political and socio-economic development. We have agreed on the need to improve the social well-being of citizens in our countries and globally. Indeed, our shared goals and aspirations are for our peoples to live a well-balanced life in peaceful, secure, resilient, sustainable and rights-based societies.
The OACPS is on a mission to transform the economies of its members from predominantly raw materials and single commodity exporters, to exporters of manufactured items of higher value.
By enhancing trade and investments between us, we aim to be industrialized so that we can absorb the abundant labour that is currently looking for opportunities.
Our citizens can now see the outcome of these negotiations. We owed it to them to deliver on our promise. We have an agreement that will help us to adopt sound policies that will better the lives of millions of the present and future generations.
We now move to the next stage of preparations for signing and ratification, after which the hard part will begin – that of ensuring through implementation that the new Agreement delivers on our aspirations.
I wish to sincerely thank Madam Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen and her team for her leadership and vision. We held the negotiations in a cordial atmosphere and this enabled us to reach a good deal.
I also wish to thank the OACPS Council of Ministers for the honour and trust it bestowed on me to lead these negotiations on their behalf. I was supported by a team of Ministers in the Central Negotiating Group and I take this opportunity to thank them. I should not forget to thank our Ambassadorial negotiating teams as well as the OACPS Secretary General Chikoti and his staff for all their efforts.
I thank you.