Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, has said that the Caribbean region needs to recognise the financial security the Cotonou Agreement affords the region.
Minister Greenidge, speaking to reporters on Friday, said 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.
Minister Greenidge noted 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,” he said.
Guyana is doing its part to “strengthen our own trade capacity,” Minister Greenidge pointed out. “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,” he contended.
While concerns are justified about the possible tariffs that products entering the British market may now attract, Minister Greenidge pointed out that the region has a “firm agreement” with the EU.
Earlier this month, President David Granger and Minister Greenidge were 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.
The Minister noted, however, that 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.
According to a GINA report, the Minister noted that there is need for the matter to be treated with “urgency”.
Later this month, June 22-23 in Cancun, Mexico, the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) Ministers will meet with the EU Commissioner for Development, to 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.