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India becomes “frontline” state in US war plans against China

Deepal Jayasekera and Keith Jones
 
INDIA is to become a major service and repair hub for the US Seventh Fleet—the armada that is at the centre of US war preparations against China.
In February last the Pentagon awarded a contract, said to be worth up to $1.5 billion over the next five years, to a shipyard in Gujarat to maintain the Seventh Fleet’s warships and patrol and service vessels.
This is a strategic move aimed at giving flesh and blood to 2016 August’s agreement opening India’s military bases and ports to routine use by the US military for the resupply and repair of its warplanes and warships.
The transformation of India into a hub for the Seventh Fleet marks a new stage in India’s integration into US imperialism’s military-strategic offensive against China.
The Seventh Fleet is at the very centre of US plans to wage war on China. It has responsibility for the western Pacific and the eastern stretches of the Indian Ocean up to the India-Pakistan border. US strategy calls for the Seventh Fleet to impose an economic blockade on China by seizing control of the Straits of Malacca and other Indian Ocean/South China Sea chokepoints and to spearhead a massive bombardment of Chinese military installations, cities and infrastructure in what the Pentagon calls its “Air-Sea Battle” plan.
 
Dominating the Indian Ocean
Since the beginning of the 21st century, Washington has worked assiduously to harness New Delhi to its predatory agenda and to build up India as a counterweight to China. The Pentagon and US military-intelligence think tanks have long coveted India as a geopolitical prize because of its size, its large nuclear-armed military and its strategic location. India, or so the strategists of US imperialism calculate, can serve as China’s “soft southern underbelly.” It also provides the best vantage point from which to dominate the Indian Ocean, China’s and the world’s most important commercial waterway.
Under Narendra Modi and his Hindu supremacist BJP government, New Delhi has dramatically expanded its already extensive military-strategic cooperation with Washington. In addition to the basing agreement, India has expanded bilateral and trilateral military-strategic ties with America’s principal Asian-Pacific allies, Japan and Australia. In January, the head of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, revealed that the Pentagon and Indian military are sharing intelligence on Chinese submarine and ship movements in the Indian Ocean.
The grave threat the Indo-US alliance represents to the people of Asia and the world is underscored by the advent of the Trump administration. It has denounced China as a “currency manipulator,” dismissed the Obama administration’s anti-China “Pivot to Asia” as weak and ineffective, and threatened to deny Beijing access to Chinese-controlled islets in the South China Sea—an act that would be tantamount to a declaration of war.
Trump has criticized Obama’s foreign policy on many fronts. But when it comes to India, Defence Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis has vowed that the Trump administration is determined to “build upon” the recent “tremendous progress” in Indo-US “defence cooperation.”
The Indian government, opposition and corporate media are all complicit in keeping India’s workers and toilers in the dark as to the extent to which India is being transformed into a frontline state in Washington’s drive to thwart China’s rise and assert US hegemony over Eurasia. This drive, if not stopped through the revolutionary mobilization of the international working class, leads inexorably to war between the world’s nuclear-armed great powers.
India’s emergence as a hub for the US Seventh Fleet is so striking a change, however, that even Indian media reports could not avoid mentioning that during the Cold War, the Seventh Fleet was used by Washington to bully and threaten New Delhi on several occasions. The Times of India wrote, “The US Seventh Fleet, which was sent to the Bay of Bengal in December 1971 by then-American President Richard Nixon … to pressure India during the Bangladesh liberation war, will now ironically be maintained by an Indian company.”
Because of New Delhi’s strategic and commercial ties with Moscow, Washington treated India as an adversary for most of the Cold War.
Newly independent India had been eager to establish warm relations with Washington. But New Delhi balked at US imperialism’s attempts to bully it into subordinating its foreign policy to Washington’s strategic offensive against the Soviet Union.
Washington responded by recruiting Pakistan, the rival state created through the communal partition of the subcontinent that had accompanied independence, to serve as a linchpin of its Cold War alliance system. With the US arming Pakistan, India turned to the Soviet Union for arms purchases and strategic support. It also became one of the founders and the principal leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Soviet support also helped New Delhi counter the economic pressure the US exerted on India because of its use of import substitution and state ownership to strengthen the Indian bourgeoisie’s position vis a vis international capital. Jawaharlal Nehru and his Congress Party government were also mindful of the assistance the Soviet Stalinist regime’s support could play in integrating the Stalinist Communist Party of India (CPI) into bourgeois politics so as to use it to contain working class opposition.
 
Indian bourgeoisie’s stratagem 
India’s non-alignment policy had nothing to do with genuine opposition to imperialism. It was a stratagem of the Indian bourgeoisie to strengthen its class rule. When the rug was pulled out from under its state-led capitalist development strategy by globalization and the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, it quickly junked its anti-imperialist rhetoric and began to fashion a more direct and slavish relationship with Washington.
This shift was spearheaded by Nehru’s Congress Party heirs. It was a Congress-led government that forged the “global Indo-US strategic partnership” that served as the antechamber for India’s transformation under Modi into a veritable frontline state in Washington’s anti-China offensive.
Yet the CPI, its Stalinist sister party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and their Left Front continue to promote “non-alignment” as “anti-imperialism” and claim that the Indian bourgeoisie can play a progressive role in world politics.
The Stalinists maintain that the imperialist world order can be pacified and the interests of the Indian bourgeoisie best advanced if New Delhi curtails its strategic ties with Washington and opposes US “unilateralism” by advocating “multi-polarity”—i.e., a greater role in regulating world affairs for the other imperialist ruling elites, the Indian bourgeoisie and the oligarchs who now rule Russia and China.
That the Stalinists openly support the great power ambitions of the Indian bourgeoisie is underscored by their support for the expansion of India’s military and nuclear arsenal.
And for all their claims to oppose Modi’s embrace of Washington, they have failed to alert the working class to how the Indian bourgeoisie’s alliance with US imperialism is emboldening New Delhi in its drive to impose itself as South Asia’s regional hegemon.
The Stalinists applauded when India carried out illegal, cross-border military raids inside Pakistan in September 2016, plunging South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals into their most serious war crisis since at least 2003.
 
Nuclear weapons threat from Pakistan
Pakistan’s reactionary elite has responded to India’s increasingly menacing posture by threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons in the event of a larger Indian attack and by deepening its longstanding strategic partnership with Beijing.
US imperialism’s reckless drive to harness India to its offensive against China has transformed South Asia into a geopolitical powder keg. The Indo-Pakistani and Sino-Indian conflicts have become enmeshed with the US-China confrontation, adding to each a massive new explosive charge, with potentially calamitous implications for the people of the region and the world.
 
Criminal role of CPM and CPI
South Asia is thus a pivotal front in the development of a working class-led global movement against imperialist war and the capitalist system out of which it arises. Such a movement, uniting workers and toilers in India, Pakistan and across the subcontinent with the Chinese, American and international working class, will emerge only through a merciless exposure of the criminal role being played by the Stalinist CPM and CPI.
 
[Wsws; defenceforumindia.com; defenceupdate.in ]

Comment

Deepal Jayasekera and Keith Jones
 
INDIA is to become a major service and repair hub for the US Seventh Fleet—the armada that is at the centre of US war preparations against China.
In February last the Pentagon awarded a contract, said to be worth up to $1.5 billion over the next five years, to a shipyard in Gujarat to maintain the Seventh Fleet’s warships and patrol and service vessels.
This is a strategic move aimed at giving flesh and blood to 2016 August’s agreement opening India’s military bases and ports to routine use by the US military for the resupply and repair of its warplanes and warships.
The transformation of India into a hub for the Seventh Fleet marks a new stage in India’s integration into US imperialism’s military-strategic offensive against China.
The Seventh Fleet is at the very centre of US plans to wage war on China. It has responsibility for the western Pacific and the eastern stretches of the Indian Ocean up to the India-Pakistan border. US strategy calls for the Seventh Fleet to impose an economic blockade on China by seizing control of the Straits of Malacca and other Indian Ocean/South China Sea chokepoints and to spearhead a massive bombardment of Chinese military installations, cities and infrastructure in what the Pentagon calls its “Air-Sea Battle” plan.
 
Dominating the Indian Ocean
Since the beginning of the 21st century, Washington has worked assiduously to harness New Delhi to its predatory agenda and to build up India as a counterweight to China. The Pentagon and US military-intelligence think tanks have long coveted India as a geopolitical prize because of its size, its large nuclear-armed military and its strategic location. India, or so the strategists of US imperialism calculate, can serve as China’s “soft southern underbelly.” It also provides the best vantage point from which to dominate the Indian Ocean, China’s and the world’s most important commercial waterway.
Under Narendra Modi and his Hindu supremacist BJP government, New Delhi has dramatically expanded its already extensive military-strategic cooperation with Washington. In addition to the basing agreement, India has expanded bilateral and trilateral military-strategic ties with America’s principal Asian-Pacific allies, Japan and Australia. In January, the head of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, revealed that the Pentagon and Indian military are sharing intelligence on Chinese submarine and ship movements in the Indian Ocean.
The grave threat the Indo-US alliance represents to the people of Asia and the world is underscored by the advent of the Trump administration. It has denounced China as a “currency manipulator,” dismissed the Obama administration’s anti-China “Pivot to Asia” as weak and ineffective, and threatened to deny Beijing access to Chinese-controlled islets in the South China Sea—an act that would be tantamount to a declaration of war.
Trump has criticized Obama’s foreign policy on many fronts. But when it comes to India, Defence Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis has vowed that the Trump administration is determined to “build upon” the recent “tremendous progress” in Indo-US “defence cooperation.”
The Indian government, opposition and corporate media are all complicit in keeping India’s workers and toilers in the dark as to the extent to which India is being transformed into a frontline state in Washington’s drive to thwart China’s rise and assert US hegemony over Eurasia. This drive, if not stopped through the revolutionary mobilization of the international working class, leads inexorably to war between the world’s nuclear-armed great powers.
India’s emergence as a hub for the US Seventh Fleet is so striking a change, however, that even Indian media reports could not avoid mentioning that during the Cold War, the Seventh Fleet was used by Washington to bully and threaten New Delhi on several occasions. The Times of India wrote, “The US Seventh Fleet, which was sent to the Bay of Bengal in December 1971 by then-American President Richard Nixon … to pressure India during the Bangladesh liberation war, will now ironically be maintained by an Indian company.”
Because of New Delhi’s strategic and commercial ties with Moscow, Washington treated India as an adversary for most of the Cold War.
Newly independent India had been eager to establish warm relations with Washington. But New Delhi balked at US imperialism’s attempts to bully it into subordinating its foreign policy to Washington’s strategic offensive against the Soviet Union.
Washington responded by recruiting Pakistan, the rival state created through the communal partition of the subcontinent that had accompanied independence, to serve as a linchpin of its Cold War alliance system. With the US arming Pakistan, India turned to the Soviet Union for arms purchases and strategic support. It also became one of the founders and the principal leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Soviet support also helped New Delhi counter the economic pressure the US exerted on India because of its use of import substitution and state ownership to strengthen the Indian bourgeoisie’s position vis a vis international capital. Jawaharlal Nehru and his Congress Party government were also mindful of the assistance the Soviet Stalinist regime’s support could play in integrating the Stalinist Communist Party of India (CPI) into bourgeois politics so as to use it to contain working class opposition.
 
Indian bourgeoisie’s stratagem 
India’s non-alignment policy had nothing to do with genuine opposition to imperialism. It was a stratagem of the Indian bourgeoisie to strengthen its class rule. When the rug was pulled out from under its state-led capitalist development strategy by globalization and the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, it quickly junked its anti-imperialist rhetoric and began to fashion a more direct and slavish relationship with Washington.
This shift was spearheaded by Nehru’s Congress Party heirs. It was a Congress-led government that forged the “global Indo-US strategic partnership” that served as the antechamber for India’s transformation under Modi into a veritable frontline state in Washington’s anti-China offensive.
Yet the CPI, its Stalinist sister party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and their Left Front continue to promote “non-alignment” as “anti-imperialism” and claim that the Indian bourgeoisie can play a progressive role in world politics.
The Stalinists maintain that the imperialist world order can be pacified and the interests of the Indian bourgeoisie best advanced if New Delhi curtails its strategic ties with Washington and opposes US “unilateralism” by advocating “multi-polarity”—i.e., a greater role in regulating world affairs for the other imperialist ruling elites, the Indian bourgeoisie and the oligarchs who now rule Russia and China.
That the Stalinists openly support the great power ambitions of the Indian bourgeoisie is underscored by their support for the expansion of India’s military and nuclear arsenal.
And for all their claims to oppose Modi’s embrace of Washington, they have failed to alert the working class to how the Indian bourgeoisie’s alliance with US imperialism is emboldening New Delhi in its drive to impose itself as South Asia’s regional hegemon.
The Stalinists applauded when India carried out illegal, cross-border military raids inside Pakistan in September 2016, plunging South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals into their most serious war crisis since at least 2003.
 
Nuclear weapons threat from Pakistan
Pakistan’s reactionary elite has responded to India’s increasingly menacing posture by threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons in the event of a larger Indian attack and by deepening its longstanding strategic partnership with Beijing.
US imperialism’s reckless drive to harness India to its offensive against China has transformed South Asia into a geopolitical powder keg. The Indo-Pakistani and Sino-Indian conflicts have become enmeshed with the US-China confrontation, adding to each a massive new explosive charge, with potentially calamitous implications for the people of the region and the world.
 
Criminal role of CPM and CPI
South Asia is thus a pivotal front in the development of a working class-led global movement against imperialist war and the capitalist system out of which it arises. Such a movement, uniting workers and toilers in India, Pakistan and across the subcontinent with the Chinese, American and international working class, will emerge only through a merciless exposure of the criminal role being played by the Stalinist CPM and CPI.
 
[Wsws; defenceforumindia.com; defenceupdate.in ]

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MEETOTAMULLA TRAGEDY 
Urgent need for solving the problem
Jehan Perera in Colombo
 
THE tragedy at Meetotamulla, in the outskirts of Colombo—-where a massive garbage dump came crashing down on people living on its perimeter—-has generated an outpouring of support for the victims and frustration about the failure of successive governments to deal with the problem. About 40 persons are confirmed dead and several more remain unaccounted for giving rise to speculation that the actual death toll may be even higher. Unfortunately, this was a tragedy that could be seen to be coming. Those living in the vicinity of the garbage dump had been agitating for many years about the dangers posed to them by the prospect of disease and also by the stench but to no avail. In the meantime the mountain of garbage simply grew and grew and grew.
In societies such as Sri Lanka where systems of good governance are still not in place, even if aspired to, the priority of governments are not necessarily in order of importance or urgency. When systems are not strong it is those individuals who are in positions of power, and who are self-interested about their use of power, who have their way. Even today when there is a government in office that has a stated policy of being committed to good governance, priorities can be seen to be warped. The budgetary allocation for vehicles of parliamentarians and other officials who serve them seems unduly large when the country is said to be facing an economic crisis due to past profligate spending on the part of the previous government.
The problem of dealing with the garbage issue has been the absence of a system to prioritise the problem and solve it. It is also the absence of individual champions of garbage disposal in the ranks of those who have been and are power holders who were prepared to work for the national interest even at the expense of their own. As a result there was no political will to push the solutions that were proposed to their conclusion. The problem was not the dearth of possible solutions. Many creative solutions were proposed, some of which are being proposed again today. This is no dissimilar to the much larger and still unresolved problem of the ethnic conflict and minority rights where systems of good governance have yet to be put in place.
 
Positive actions
In the aftermath of the tragedy there have been many contributions made to the victims by the general public. There have also been many contributions made to the newspapers and media giving possible solutions. The interest that the intelligentsia of the country is indicative of the large reservoir of untapped problem solving skills that can be drawn upon to resolve not only this but other major problems as well. Another notable feature of the post-disaster activism has been the generous support of the international community. Japan immediately sent humanitarian relief and a team of its experts in the field to visit the disaster site and to make recommendations. China has offered to set up a new garbage disposal system.
Another positive feature of the post-disaster situation is the limited scale of the political one-upmanship than might have been expected. Both government and opposition politicians have blamed each other for what happened, but underlying their criticisms is a sense that all have been at fault. The more significant part of their engagement has been their constructive suggestions with regard to providing the victims with adequate compensation, both in monetary terms and in the provision of housing. The government started by offering Rs 100,000 for funeral expenses, but soon that has been supplemented by the grant of houses and much greater financial assistance. The media too has given prominence to efforts to assist the victims and to making a critique of past actions and publicity to proposed solutions.
The humanitarian relief effort has been victim centered. This is the way it should be not only with regard to the garbage crisis but also with regard to other humanitarian crises that the country has faced. There is a need to ascertain the truth of what happened, compensate the victims, and ensure non recurrence of the problem by ensuring accountability and setting up new structures to address the problems that arose in the past. The tendency to seek to move easily to the future, without dealing with the root causes, needs to be guarded against. It is good to remember the forgotten people of past tragedies at this time. 
 
Periphery neglected
In October 2014, 39 people died and hundreds were displaced by landslides in Koslanda where tea plantations are the main source of livelihood. However, according to media reports, people still continue to live in line rooms near the site of the landslides despite the area being designated as a danger zone. Another example would be Aranayake where 37 people died and another 4000 people were displaced by landslides in May 2016. Most of the affected families continue to remain in temporary shelters. A further 3000 people continue to live in danger zones that are prone to landslides. They are the forgotten people of past tragedies who continue to wait for assistance. They can be forgotten because they are not at the centre of either national politics nor can they disrupt life in the national capital.
By way of contrast, the pressures on the government to deliver a solution to the garbage problem are high. Despite the government’s declaration that garbage disposal is an essential service there is resistance from the general public to garbage from Colombo being dumped in their areas now that the Meetotamulla dumping site is no longer available. As the piles of garbage mount the government risks a political backlash in the national capital itself unless it solves the problem in a way that accords with public sentiment. For this reason as sustainable solution is likely to be found soon. However, in the case of more distant problems, where the political costs of inaction are less, the problem continues to fester. 
Today it might seem that the plight of war affected people of the north and east is far away and so it is not a priority to the decision makers in the capital city. The weakness of good governance structures in the country have meant that lesser priority is being given to resolving their problems. The controversial nature of ethnic conflict which is the root cause of the three decade long war also means that there are few political champions who will devote themselves to solving the problem. Without waiting for anger and resentment to build up, as it did in the past, it is necessary that the government to obtain the cooperation of the opposition, who are jointly responsible and address the roots of this problem as well.

Comment

Jehan Perera in Colombo
 
THE tragedy at Meetotamulla, in the outskirts of Colombo—-where a massive garbage dump came crashing down on people living on its perimeter—-has generated an outpouring of support for the victims and frustration about the failure of successive governments to deal with the problem. About 40 persons are confirmed dead and several more remain unaccounted for giving rise to speculation that the actual death toll may be even higher. Unfortunately, this was a tragedy that could be seen to be coming. Those living in the vicinity of the garbage dump had been agitating for many years about the dangers posed to them by the prospect of disease and also by the stench but to no avail. In the meantime the mountain of garbage simply grew and grew and grew.
In societies such as Sri Lanka where systems of good governance are still not in place, even if aspired to, the priority of governments are not necessarily in order of importance or urgency. When systems are not strong it is those individuals who are in positions of power, and who are self-interested about their use of power, who have their way. Even today when there is a government in office that has a stated policy of being committed to good governance, priorities can be seen to be warped. The budgetary allocation for vehicles of parliamentarians and other officials who serve them seems unduly large when the country is said to be facing an economic crisis due to past profligate spending on the part of the previous government.
The problem of dealing with the garbage issue has been the absence of a system to prioritise the problem and solve it. It is also the absence of individual champions of garbage disposal in the ranks of those who have been and are power holders who were prepared to work for the national interest even at the expense of their own. As a result there was no political will to push the solutions that were proposed to their conclusion. The problem was not the dearth of possible solutions. Many creative solutions were proposed, some of which are being proposed again today. This is no dissimilar to the much larger and still unresolved problem of the ethnic conflict and minority rights where systems of good governance have yet to be put in place.
 
Positive actions
In the aftermath of the tragedy there have been many contributions made to the victims by the general public. There have also been many contributions made to the newspapers and media giving possible solutions. The interest that the intelligentsia of the country is indicative of the large reservoir of untapped problem solving skills that can be drawn upon to resolve not only this but other major problems as well. Another notable feature of the post-disaster activism has been the generous support of the international community. Japan immediately sent humanitarian relief and a team of its experts in the field to visit the disaster site and to make recommendations. China has offered to set up a new garbage disposal system.
Another positive feature of the post-disaster situation is the limited scale of the political one-upmanship than might have been expected. Both government and opposition politicians have blamed each other for what happened, but underlying their criticisms is a sense that all have been at fault. The more significant part of their engagement has been their constructive suggestions with regard to providing the victims with adequate compensation, both in monetary terms and in the provision of housing. The government started by offering Rs 100,000 for funeral expenses, but soon that has been supplemented by the grant of houses and much greater financial assistance. The media too has given prominence to efforts to assist the victims and to making a critique of past actions and publicity to proposed solutions.
The humanitarian relief effort has been victim centered. This is the way it should be not only with regard to the garbage crisis but also with regard to other humanitarian crises that the country has faced. There is a need to ascertain the truth of what happened, compensate the victims, and ensure non recurrence of the problem by ensuring accountability and setting up new structures to address the problems that arose in the past. The tendency to seek to move easily to the future, without dealing with the root causes, needs to be guarded against. It is good to remember the forgotten people of past tragedies at this time. 
 
Periphery neglected
In October 2014, 39 people died and hundreds were displaced by landslides in Koslanda where tea plantations are the main source of livelihood. However, according to media reports, people still continue to live in line rooms near the site of the landslides despite the area being designated as a danger zone. Another example would be Aranayake where 37 people died and another 4000 people were displaced by landslides in May 2016. Most of the affected families continue to remain in temporary shelters. A further 3000 people continue to live in danger zones that are prone to landslides. They are the forgotten people of past tragedies who continue to wait for assistance. They can be forgotten because they are not at the centre of either national politics nor can they disrupt life in the national capital.
By way of contrast, the pressures on the government to deliver a solution to the garbage problem are high. Despite the government’s declaration that garbage disposal is an essential service there is resistance from the general public to garbage from Colombo being dumped in their areas now that the Meetotamulla dumping site is no longer available. As the piles of garbage mount the government risks a political backlash in the national capital itself unless it solves the problem in a way that accords with public sentiment. For this reason as sustainable solution is likely to be found soon. However, in the case of more distant problems, where the political costs of inaction are less, the problem continues to fester. 
Today it might seem that the plight of war affected people of the north and east is far away and so it is not a priority to the decision makers in the capital city. The weakness of good governance structures in the country have meant that lesser priority is being given to resolving their problems. The controversial nature of ethnic conflict which is the root cause of the three decade long war also means that there are few political champions who will devote themselves to solving the problem. Without waiting for anger and resentment to build up, as it did in the past, it is necessary that the government to obtain the cooperation of the opposition, who are jointly responsible and address the roots of this problem as well.

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One billion people to speak to Europe with one voice
Baher Kamal
 
SEVENTY-NINE countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, which are home to around one billon people, will speak with one voice on 4-5 May as they prepare to negotiate a major partnership agreement with the European Union (500 million inhabitants) in May.
The decision, announced by the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) informs that the group will negotiate as a single bloc with the European Union (EU) the new accord expected to come out of the ACP-EU ministerial meeting, scheduled for 4-5 May 2017 in Brussels.
The new accord will follow on the current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (also known as the Cotonou Agreement), which covers trade, development cooperation and political dialogue between the two parties until 2020.
The Cotonou Agreement 2000 was signed in Cotonou, Benin on 23 June 2000 and was revised both on 2005 and 2010. In it, both blocs of countries affirmed their commitment to work together towards the achievement of the objectives of poverty eradication, sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy.
They also asserted their resolve to make, through their cooperation, a significant contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of the ACP states and to the greater well-being of their population, helping them facing the challenges of globalisation and strengthening the ACP-EU Partnership in the effort to give the process of globalisation a stronger social dimension.
The two blocs reaffirmed their willingness to revitalise their special relationship and to implement a comprehensive and integrated approach for a strengthened partnership based on political dialogue, development cooperation and economic and trade relations.
Regarding the expected new agreement, representatives from the ACP and the EU have already agreed on several major issues to discuss at the upcoming joint ministerial council meetings.
There is “a clear common interest in aligning future ACP-EU cooperation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals,” the Brussels-based ACP secretariat added.
Improving the Livelihoods of One Billion People “These basic principles highlight the importance the ACP Group places on negotiating [with the EU] as a unified entity, aiming for a mature political partnership based on mutual respect,” stated ACP secretary general Dr. Patrick I. Gomes of Guyana.
“The ultimate aim is to facilitate poverty eradication, sustainable development and improve the livelihoods of the one billion people that live in our countries, added Gomes, who was elected for this key post in December 2014, had served as Guyana’s Ambassador to Belgium and the European Community and as Guyana’s representative to the World Trade Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
South Sudan, the youngest world nation, is expected to join the ACP group, raising to 80 the number of its member countries.
According to the ACP, the key issues on the agenda of the ACP-EU Joint Council of Ministers are:
— The implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals remains a top priority, and both ACP and EU sides agree that cooperation between the two parties should align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals.
— Climate change is also high on the agenda, being a concrete area where ACP and EU collaboration has enabled the global community to forge an international coalition, and paved the way for achieving the historic Paris Agreement. Continued cooperation is envisaged, including the development of effective programs and actions under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
— The future relations between ACP and EU countries is a fundamental issue in the lead up to negotiations for a renewed partnership agreement to follow the current ACP-EU framework, which expires in 2020. The ACP Group intends to negotiate as a unified entity, supporting a legally binding agreement with a dedicated development finance mechanism.
— Discussions on migration will look at the progress of the Valetta Action Plan as well as the EU Trust Fund for Africa, with the primary goal of assisting African countries to help stem migratory flows to Europe.
On this, the ACP has highlighted synergies with the ACP-EU Dialogue on Migration, while also underlining trends in the Caribbean and Pacific regions, particularly in relation to human trafficking, smuggling of migrants, and high cost of remittances.
— Both the EU and ACP recognise the importance of private sector development. Ministers will consider the progress made under the Joint ACP-EU Cooperation Framework for Private Sector Development Support.
— As far as development finance cooperation, talks will focus on aspects related to implementing the SDGs, the status of the European Development Funds and the implementation of the ACP Investment Facility.
— Finally, economic issues such as trade cooperation (including the state of play of the ACP-EU regional Economic Partnership Agreements – EPAS), the European External Investment Plan and perspectives of the Investment Facility, round up the main part of the agenda.
—IPS

Comment

Baher Kamal
 
SEVENTY-NINE countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, which are home to around one billon people, will speak with one voice on 4-5 May as they prepare to negotiate a major partnership agreement with the European Union (500 million inhabitants) in May.
The decision, announced by the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) informs that the group will negotiate as a single bloc with the European Union (EU) the new accord expected to come out of the ACP-EU ministerial meeting, scheduled for 4-5 May 2017 in Brussels.
The new accord will follow on the current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (also known as the Cotonou Agreement), which covers trade, development cooperation and political dialogue between the two parties until 2020.
The Cotonou Agreement 2000 was signed in Cotonou, Benin on 23 June 2000 and was revised both on 2005 and 2010. In it, both blocs of countries affirmed their commitment to work together towards the achievement of the objectives of poverty eradication, sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy.
They also asserted their resolve to make, through their cooperation, a significant contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of the ACP states and to the greater well-being of their population, helping them facing the challenges of globalisation and strengthening the ACP-EU Partnership in the effort to give the process of globalisation a stronger social dimension.
The two blocs reaffirmed their willingness to revitalise their special relationship and to implement a comprehensive and integrated approach for a strengthened partnership based on political dialogue, development cooperation and economic and trade relations.
Regarding the expected new agreement, representatives from the ACP and the EU have already agreed on several major issues to discuss at the upcoming joint ministerial council meetings.
There is “a clear common interest in aligning future ACP-EU cooperation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals,” the Brussels-based ACP secretariat added.
Improving the Livelihoods of One Billion People “These basic principles highlight the importance the ACP Group places on negotiating [with the EU] as a unified entity, aiming for a mature political partnership based on mutual respect,” stated ACP secretary general Dr. Patrick I. Gomes of Guyana.
“The ultimate aim is to facilitate poverty eradication, sustainable development and improve the livelihoods of the one billion people that live in our countries, added Gomes, who was elected for this key post in December 2014, had served as Guyana’s Ambassador to Belgium and the European Community and as Guyana’s representative to the World Trade Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
South Sudan, the youngest world nation, is expected to join the ACP group, raising to 80 the number of its member countries.
According to the ACP, the key issues on the agenda of the ACP-EU Joint Council of Ministers are:
— The implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals remains a top priority, and both ACP and EU sides agree that cooperation between the two parties should align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals.
— Climate change is also high on the agenda, being a concrete area where ACP and EU collaboration has enabled the global community to forge an international coalition, and paved the way for achieving the historic Paris Agreement. Continued cooperation is envisaged, including the development of effective programs and actions under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
— The future relations between ACP and EU countries is a fundamental issue in the lead up to negotiations for a renewed partnership agreement to follow the current ACP-EU framework, which expires in 2020. The ACP Group intends to negotiate as a unified entity, supporting a legally binding agreement with a dedicated development finance mechanism.
— Discussions on migration will look at the progress of the Valetta Action Plan as well as the EU Trust Fund for Africa, with the primary goal of assisting African countries to help stem migratory flows to Europe.
On this, the ACP has highlighted synergies with the ACP-EU Dialogue on Migration, while also underlining trends in the Caribbean and Pacific regions, particularly in relation to human trafficking, smuggling of migrants, and high cost of remittances.
— Both the EU and ACP recognise the importance of private sector development. Ministers will consider the progress made under the Joint ACP-EU Cooperation Framework for Private Sector Development Support.
— As far as development finance cooperation, talks will focus on aspects related to implementing the SDGs, the status of the European Development Funds and the implementation of the ACP Investment Facility.
— Finally, economic issues such as trade cooperation (including the state of play of the ACP-EU regional Economic Partnership Agreements – EPAS), the European External Investment Plan and perspectives of the Investment Facility, round up the main part of the agenda.
—IPS

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