Options and scenarios

FUTURE PERSPECTIVES OF THE ACP GROUP AND MAURITIUS

In the circumstances, the ACP Group has to weigh the pros and cons of all options and scenarios ranging from its natural death on the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020 or status quo or to its transformation into a new International Organization of the developing countries, building on its longstanding relations with the EU, to diversify its relations with other developed countries/groupings and South-South Cooperation with the BRIC, as well as opening up the present ACP Group to other developing countries having similar characteristics (eg non-ACP LDCs, other structurally weak and vulnerable economies etc). In this respect, the ACP Ambassadorial Group has commissioned a comprehensive study with the mandate for the :

    •    Examination of the continued relevance and achievements of the ACP as a Group and the functioning of its Organs in the new and evolving global environment ;
    •    Review of the ACP’s privileged relations and cooperation with the EU taking into account the Second Revised Cotonou Partnership Agreement, the Economic Partnership Agreements, the Lisbon Treaty as well as relations with other development partners ;
    •    Identification of the comparative advantages that the ACP Group possesses and their relevance for the future as well as its weaknesses, opportunities and strengths (SWOT Analysis) ;
    •    Review and examination of the relevance, performance and achievements of the institutions of the ACP Group, including the CTA and CDE, and their legal status, mandate and financial situation ;
    •    Examination of the ACP Group’s relations with ACP regional organisations and other organisations, including OIF, Commonwealth Secretariat and others ;
    •    Prospects for the Integration of the ACP Group through the implementation of an effective and ambitious Intra-ACP Cooperation Programme on the basis of the ACP Summit Declarations, and the 1982 and 1985 Intra-ACP Plans of Action ;
    •    Opening of the ACP Group to include other Non-ACP developing countries, LDCs and islands or countries with similar characteristics ;
    •    Examination of various options and scenarios for post-2020 when the Cotonou Agreement expires, while taking account of and building on the privileged relations between the ACP and EU ;

The specific tasks will be the :
    •    Planning and execution of outreach and consultation activities to elicit opinions and ideas from all stakeholder which includes EU and ACP Regional Organisations, other developing countries and organisations of developing countries (G77, G24, Non-Aligned Movements, etc.) and all ACP level ;
    •    Submission of a report on the outreach/consultation exercise, including conclusions and concrete proposals on the future perspectives of the ACP Group.
Since this will be a highly political issue, the Ambassadorial Group proposes that an ACP Summit of Heads of State and/or Government be held in 2014 to take a decision. This will allow sufficient time to the ACP Group to prepare for the 2020 count-down.

Mauritius and the ACP Group
Mauritius is one of the 46 founding members of the ACP Group established in 1975. It has since then been closely associated with its development. Mauritius, mainly through its Embassy in Brussels, has contributed significantly in the negotiations and implementation of the successive ACP-EU Agreements and the Sugar Protocol.
The close association of the Embassy with the ACP Group and its involvement with the ACP-EU Agreements and Protocols have contributed enormously to the socio-economic development of Mauritius. This is because, in spite of its small size and status of a middle-income country which does not make it eligible to benefit from grant, and soft loans from international financial institutions and bilateral aid Mauritius has received substantial grant aid from the EU over the last ten years as shown below :

    •    9th EDF (2000-2007) – National Indicative Programme &        
         Other allocations                                                      :     € 67.3 M
    •    Accompanying Measures for Sugar Sector (AMSP)     
    •    2006-2010                                                               :     € 141.475 million
    •    2011-2013                                                                 :     € 139.6 million
    •    10th EDF
    •    2008-2013                                                               :       € 51 million
    •    Performance allocation (additional)                  :       € 10.2 million
    •    FLEX (2006-2009), including-Flex                   :       € 42.47 million
    •    EU Global Alliance for Climate change              :       € 3 million
                                                                                                      € 455.05 million (Rs 18.7 billion approximately)

Under the 9th EDF, the Embassy was instrumental in securing € 5.8 million (Rs 240 million) to finance 8 research projects by MSIRI. This will help the sugar-cane industry to undertake horizontal and vertical integration projects and to promote upstream and downstream economic activities.
In addition, Mauritius has received significant resources from the EU through allocations made to the COMESA and IOC of which Mauritius is a member. It is to be noted that, under the 10th EDF for the period 2007-2013, COMESA has been allocated € 645 million to finance regional integration/cooperation programmes. Mauritius benefits from the allocation to the Regional Indicative Programme through the Indian Ocean Commission.
The European Investment Bank, which has been granted € 4.5 billion since 2005 under the 9th and 10th EDF, provides soft loans to ACP States under the grant-based Investment Facility. Soft loans/equity have been provided to Mauritian companies/parastatal bodies totaling € 188.1 million (Rs 7.7 billion) for the period 2001-2011. This has been possible a result of the € 100 million interest subsidy which Mauritius has negotiated during discussion on the 10th EDF.
The Embassy has also negotiated with Greece in 2010, a grant of € 4 million for the IOC Secretariat to finance environment-related activities. Mauritius will benefit from this grant for its Ile Durable project in addition to the financing of certain projects directly by the Greek Government to the corporative and fisheries sectors.
The Embassy has successfully negotiated and signed a Visa Waiver Agreement in 2009 with EU Schengen countries. This unprecedented agreement allows Mauritian nationals to travel to the 27 European countries without visa. It has saved Mauritius tens of millions of rupees in visa fees. More importantly, our citizens are being spared the hassles and indignity they were subjected in the past in securing in time a visa to visit Europe. This agreement was followed by a more liberal one with Switzerland.
The Embassy also negotiated and concluded the ESA-EU interim EPA in 2007. This has contributed not only to prevent our well established trade from being disrupted but has also provided further opportunities and concessions for trade with the EU which accounts for nearly two thirds of our exports, including tuna and textiles and clothing. Moreover, the Embassy has secured three derogations totaling 10,000 tons of processed tuna worth tens of millions of rupees in terms of export earnings.
Indeed, our membership of the ACP Group has been a deliberate political choice in an attempt to practise an effective economic diplomacy in which the Mauritius Embassy in Brussels has been in the forefront during the past ten years. The continued existence of a transformed and forward-looking ACP Group is of critical importance for Mauritius. It is, therefore, crucial that Government plays a lead role in the reflection currently being undertaken by the ACP Group on its future perspectives and ACP-EU relations. The question which arises is “whether the Government is prepared to play and assume such a leadership role and how”. This is also a wake-up call for Mauritius.

* Ambassador of Mauritius to the EU – Brussels