Department of International Relations and Cooperation on the Ratification of Accession to the Revised Cotonuo Partnership Agreement

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Meeting Summary

The Committee heard a brief presentation from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation on the revised Cotonou Partnership Agreement. South Africa had missed the deadline for the ratification of the Agreement. The delay was due to the review of the Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement and Parliament’s full schedule in preparation for the 2009 National Assembly Elections. The revised agreement included provisions that called for cooperation between the European Union and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of states in the fight against terrorism, the proliferation of arms and weapons of mass destruction and the International Criminal Court. The Committee approved the Agreement and recommended that it should be approved by the House.

Meeting report

Ratification of Accession to the Revised Cotonuo Partnership Agreement: briefing by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)
Mr Jan van Vollenhoven, Chief Director: European Organisation, DIRCO, noted that Parliament was left with one week to consider ratification of the revised Cotonou Agreement. The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation had requested that the said Agreement be tabled in the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.

South Africa had missed the deadline for the ratification of the Agreement. The delay was due to the review of the Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) and Parliament’s full schedule in preparation for the 2009 National Assembly Elections. The Department needed to ensure firstly that the Agreement was in line with the country’s international commitments.

South Africa had to now follow the route of accession to the Agreement. This was expected to be completed in November 2009. The Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) was provisionally applied from 01 March 2000 and fully entered into force on 01 April 2003.

In terms of Article 95(3) the CPA has to be reviewed every five years. South Africa as a member of the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group states, had signed the CPA on 23 June 2000. In addition, it had conditionally signed the amended agreement on 25 June 2005. The CPA currently served as the framework for cooperation between the European Union (EU) and ACP countries.

The revised agreement included provisions that called for cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the ACP states in the fight against terrorism, the proliferation of arms and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). South Africa had raised objections to the EUs proposed text on some of these issues, especially on WMD. South Africa’s disarmament experts were of the opinion that it did not fully link non-proliferation, disarmament re WMD’s as well as the creation of a new oversight body. South Africa and EU had negotiated compromise texts for the revised TDCA which addressed the ICC and WMD.

The ACP was the largest organised entity for developing countries with 79 members. South Africa had been excluded from the Trade Chapters as it was considered a developed country, and would therefore not be compatible with World Trade Organisation provisions.

The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry had considered and approved the Agreement on 4 November 2009. As per procedure, the Select Committee on Trade and International Relations was also required to consider the Agreement and report to the National Council of Provinces.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked if Members wanted to ask questions of clarity.

There were no questions forthcoming.

The Chairperson informed the Committee that they needed to approve the document as it had already been delayed.

Members adopted the report and recommended that it should be approved by the House.

The meeting was adjourned.


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