Hon. Oparanya attends 94th session of ACP Council of Ministers 19/01/2012
Hon. Wycliffe Oparanya, the Minister for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, attended the 94th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers meeting that took place in Brussels at the ACP house from 7 to 9 December 2011. The Council meeting was taking place at the same time as the ACP Ministers of Trade meeting, which traditionally has always preceded the Council. This resulted into the two important organs of the ACP taking advantage of the rare opportunity to share ideas at a joint meeting, held on the last day of the Council meeting.
The Council is the main decision-making body of the ACP, and provides policy direction as well as outlining terms and conditions for implementing the Group’s objectives set out in its general policy. The Council meets twice annually in ordinary sessions, and this meeting was the second one for the year after the June 2011 meeting that also took place in Brussels.
The 94th Session meeting took place against the background of a world economy that continues to recover rather slowly and also made worse by fiscal challenges in the EU countries of Greece, Spain and Italy. The meeting noted that in November, the EU leaders had taken tough decisions to provide a financial package to bolster the euro and speed economic recovery within the euro zone. These austerity measures have potential of affecting EU development arrangements, particularly its partnership with ACP countries.
The Council passed a number of resolutions, including those on commodities such as bananas, sugar and cotton. On bananas, the Council expressed deep concern that because of EU internal procedures, no resources can be committed before 2013 despite conclusion of the Geneva agreement two years ago when liberalization of the bananas took effect. On sugar, the meeting expressed deep reservations on the adverse implications of the European Commission proposal to abolish EU sugar and isoglucose quotas in October 2015. In addition, the Council also reviewed reports on Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations, many of which were noted to be in a state of deadlock, prompting the Ministers to call upon the EU to exhibit flexibility in its approach to the process. The meeting further noted that although the EU has been a valued trade and development partner for many years, there is now greater need to look at the future perspectives of the ACP post Cotonou Agreement, which lapses in 2020.
Besides the meeting, the Hon. Minister for Planning found time out of his busy schedule to attend a dinner reception hosted in his honour by H.E. Amb. Kembi-Gitura. The Minister was also joined at the reception by a delegation from Kenya, who had come to participate in a flower exhibition held at the Euroveiling Auction in Brussels to showcase Kenyan flowers and explore ways of direct importation of flowers into the Belgian market through the auction. The delegation included Ministry of Agriculture officials, private flower growers, and representatives from the Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA) and the Kenya Flower Council. During the reception, the Minister informed of various government initiatives to sustain and promote the economic development of the country.
On their part, the delegation attending the flower show expressed their appreciation for the hard work done by the Embassy for Kenyan flowers to be exhibited at the show. They informed that the show was successful, and that they had made useful contacts with prospective buyers which they hope will enable them to directly access the Belgian market. The delegation thanked H.E. Amb. Kembi-Gitura for breaking the ground, and taking the first crucial steps that will ultimately lead to Kenyan flowers directly participating at the Euroveiling flower auction in Brussels. It was further observed that the partnership the Embassy had already built with SN Brussels Airlines will be crucial for direct importation of the flowers into Belgium.