President Kenyatta calls for more trade and investment deals among OACPS Countries

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President Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta at a past event. PHOTO/COURTESY

President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for more trade and investment deals among member countries of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS).

President Kenyatta, who is the current President-in-Office of the Summit of OACPS Heads of State and Government, said that the over one billion people that make up the 79-member multilateral body provides a huge potential for intra-OACPS trade and investments.

“With a combined population of over 1.1 billion people and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about US$ 3.2 trillion, the transition from ACP to OACPS presents enormous opportunities for intra-OACPS trade and investments; and the achievement of greater shared prosperity for all our people,” the President said.

President Kenyatta spoke Thursday night at State House, Nairobi when he delivered the opening statement during a virtual townhall meeting of the OACPS. The meeting was convened to commemorate the first anniversary of the revised Georgetown Agreement.

The revised Georgetown Agreement, which came into force on 5th April 2020, was adopted during the OACPS 9th summit held in Nairobi in December 2019 and introduced several reforms among them, the renaming of the bloc from ACP Group of States to OACPS.

In his statement, President Kenyatta outlined his vision for the multilateral institution saying he envisions a transitionary OACPS that is united and progressive.

“We should aim for a transition that supports structural transformation to foster industrialization, diversification of our economies and an increase in value addition of our primary products.

“Secondly, the OACPS of the future should strengthen our solidarity and unity. Underlying the establishment of the ACP Group was our desire to promote unity and solidarity of the ACP States,” the President said.

He said OACPS needs to leverage on its past successes such as the existing Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) to become a “more influential actor in the global economic arena”.

President Kenyatta also spoke about the impact of Covid-19 on OACPS countries saying member states need to “use creativity and innovation to recover together and build back better”.

“Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged our health and economic systems. Livelihoods have been destroyed rendering hundreds of millions of our people into unemployment and poverty. The services sector, in particular the tourism sector, has been crippled with devastating impacts on coastal and island states.

On financing of development in OACPS, President Kenyatta called for a multi-pronged approach to resource mobilization and welcomed the various debt relief mechanisms.

“Regarding financing, we need to use the various multilateral platforms to mobilize resources for development. In this context, we welcome debt relief measures, which have created the needed fiscal space to reduce the negative effects of the pandemic.

“However, we seek a continuation of the debt suspension initiative; and debt cancellation, for the most severely affected countries. The prolonged pandemic requires continuous mitigation measures,” President Kenyatta added.

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