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Region should treat Cotonou Agreement with “urgency”, says Guyana foreign affairs minister

Sunday, June 18, 2017

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Guyana's Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge says the Caribbean needs to recognise the financial security the Cotonou Agreement affords the region.

According to Greenidge, the Agreement with the European Union (EU) is “the largest source of concessional financing” to the region; however the region remains distracted by Brexit (Britain’s exit from the EU).

The 2000 Cotonou Agreement, which comes to an end in 2020, is considered a comprehensive partnership agreement between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states which, among other things has a common goal of eradicating poverty.

Greenidge told reporters that there is still confusion among Caribbean states on the benefits of Cotonou. “There is great confusion over what, where our own interests lie and even understanding the arrangements that we are party to.”

“Guyana is doing its part to “strengthen our own trade capacity” he said adding that “the largest source of development funds to this region is Cotonou and yet we’ve spent more time talking about Brexit. When you think about it, it is ridiculous,”

While concerns are justified about the possible tariffs that products entering the British market may now attract, Greenidge pointed out that the region has a “firm agreement” with the EU.

Earlier this month, President David Granger along with Greenidge was part of the state delegation to the European Development Day (EDD) forum in Brussels, Belgium, where Guyana participated in the discussions on the future of the Cotonou Agreement.

But Greenidge noted that the the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is still to make arrangements “to ensure that discussions take place and the level of analysis is raised so that the region can have a position” to represent when the ACP countries meet.

He also said there is need for the matter to be treated with “urgency”.

The issue will be discussed at a meeting scheduled for June 22-23, in Cancun, Mexico, during which Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) Ministers and the EU Commissioner for Development will be updated on the EU’s views on the type of agreement, regional enlargement and institutional arrangements in the process towards a renewed agreement, which will replace the ACP EU Cotonou Agreement which expires on February 29, 2020.

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