President Uhuru Kenyatta has emphasized the need for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries to be accorded increased access to the European Union (EU) market.
The President said such arrangements like the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) should recognise each country’s level of development so that no country feels disadvantaged.
President Kenyatta observed that the ACP countries were at different levels of development and can only reap maximum benefit from the EPAs if their individual levels of economic development are taken into consideration.
The President spoke on Thursday at State House, Nairobi, when he met a delegation of ACP-EU led by Mr Joseph Owona Kono, the President of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly who doubles as the Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and Michele Rivasi, a Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.
The President said Kenya is pushing for Africa to forge a more integrated approach that will give the continent a stronger voice in its negotiations with organizations like the EU while at the same time taking cognisance of each country’s level of economic development.
President Kenyatta pointed out that Africa should negotiate as a continent and not as a region but cautioned against actions that undermine integration.
He expressed the need to develop a flexible mechanism that would allow member states that are ready to take up EPAs to do so even as others address their individual concerns.
Speaking during discussions on the East Africa Community-European Economic Partnership Agreements in Kampala in February, President Kenyatta said member states should take actions that would ensure no member country is affected negatively by actions of the other.
The President called on the Summit to agree on a resolution allowing the application of ‘variable geometry’ in the implementation of the EPAs.
The Head of State is optimistic that the Economic Partnership Agreements between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states have the potential of accelerating economic development but the concerns of individual member countries have also to be addressed.
In the meeting, President Kenyatta also called for the fully involvement of Cuba in the ACP discussions, saying the country was a key member of the group.
Addressing ACP ambassadors during his State visit to Cuba last month, President Kenyatta called for direct engagement amongst African-Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to achieve common historical aspirations.
The President noted that despite the impact of cooperation between the ACP nations, the three regions could forge a more direct common engagement among themselves for the benefit of their citizens.
He expressed concern that despite the ACP countries having a long common history, they have always depended on the European nations to interact with each other.