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ACP-EU Legislators Converge to discuss Trade, Presidential Term Limits

Parliamentarians and parliamentary officials drawn from 79 countries from the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions and 27 from the European Union (EU) will from Monday, 19th December, 2016 converge in Nairobi for the 32nd Session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA). H.E. the President, Uhuru Kenyatta will officially open the ACP-EU JPA.

The ACP-EU JPA is the only international assembly in which the representatives of various countries sit together regularly with the aim of promoting the interdependence of North and South.

The key motion entitled ‘The Role of Trade in the Attainment of the SDGs’ will be moved by Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes international trade as an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.

Presidential Term Limits
The delegates at the international assembly hosted by Parliament of Kenya will also discuss constitutional limits on presidential terms.

Moves by leaders in Africa and in some other continents to extend or abolish presidential term limits have been criticized by human rights advocates.

‘There is strong international and domestic support for presidential term limits and it would make for interesting debate at ACP-EU plenary,’ noted the Leader of the Kenyan Delegation to the ACP-EU Forum, Hon. (Dr) Joyce Laboso.

During his July 2015 trip to Africa, President Obama urged African Union leaders to ensure presidents on the continent respected constitutional term limits.

"No one should be president for life. I just don't understand the phenomenon of leaders who refuse to step aside when their terms end," said the incumbent US President in a speech in Ethiopia.

Resettlement of Migrants in Their Home Country
Another key focus area for this forum that Kenya is hosting for the first time, is the creation of appropriate conditions for the resettlement of migrants back home. The debates will focus on creation of job and education opportunities for migrants while ensuring that they have access to basic social services including healthcare.

There have been concerns that the world’s huge population of refugees could put unsustainable strain on the world’s resources.

Kenya has been at the forefront of advocating for a safe return of Somali refugees living in Kenya, to selected destinations in Somalia.

Platform for Negotiations
By hosting the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Kenya will get an opportunity to negotiate with the EU – either formally or at the side-lines of the Assembly – for bilateral terms of trade as members of the East Africa Community bloc get on board with the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) approval. The EPA needs to be approved by all countries for it to take effect. Only Rwanda and Kenya have signed the EPA.

The trade deal with the European Union which expires in February 2017 gives EAC member states duty-and-quota-free access for their goods to the EU as long as they meet the set health and safety standards.

Kenya, which is considered a developing county, stands to lose the most if the collective deal is not signed. Other member states - including Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda - would still continue getting duty-and-quota-free access under EU's Everything-but-Arms initiative since they are classified as Least Developed Countries.

If the EPA isn’t ratified by the deadline set by the EU, Kenyan exports to the EU will be subject to duties, which will have made them less competitive. The EU is Kenya’s biggest export destination, taking up cut flowers, French beans, fruit, fish, textiles, coffee and tea.

According to Mr. Louis Michel, ACP-EU JPA Co-President, the forum will also feature debates on ‘The Demographic Growth: Challenges and Opportunities’ and ‘The Impact of Illicit Financial Flows on Development Finance’, coming in the wake of revelations through Bahama and Panama leaks. The European Commission, the EU and ACP Councils will also be present for the customary Question Times.

About ACP-EU JPA

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly was created out of a common desire to bring together the elected representatives of the European Community – the Members of the European Parliament – and the elected representatives of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP Countries) that have signed the Cotonou Agreement.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly is the only international assembly in which the representatives of various countries sit together regularly with the aim of promoting the interdependence of North and South.

ACP-EU is made up of 106 Member States: 79 drawn from the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific regions and 27 from the European Union.

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