ACP Countries at a Glance

By | October 4, 2021

According to ACRONYMMONSTER.COM, ACP stands for African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.

The ACP countries

The organization is a group of states in A frica, the K aribischen room and the P azifischen States (ACP) with which Europe has special relations and thereby focuses on development and trade. To this end, economic partnership agreements are to be concluded between the EU and the ACP countries in order to promote the integration of these partner countries of the EU into the world economy and promote their development.

The ACP group currently comprises 79 countries – 48 of them in Sub-Saharan Africa, 16 in the Caribbean and 15 in the Pacific (Oceania). All countries with the exception of Cuba signed the Cotonou Agreement – also known as the “ACP-EC Partnership Agreement” – in 2000, which is why the number 78 is often mistakenly mentioned. The Cotonou Agreement binds the ACP countries to the European Union and runs until 2020.

As combined instruments of trade and development cooperation, the agreements are intended to improve market access for the ACP countries and facilitate trade. This is an attempt to strengthen the position of these countries in international and regional trade and to open up opportunities for them to participate fairly in global trade and for sustainable economic activity.

Commentary and explanations

Cooperation with the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP countries) has traditionally been a focus of European development policy. The AKP group comprises 79 countries. Partnership agreements between this group and the Europeans have existed since 1975. In a total of four Lomé agreements – named after the capital of Togo, where the first agreement was signed – the EU and its members agreed extensive cooperation with the ACP countries.

The trade advantages in exporting raw materials and agricultural products from ACP countries to the EU meant that the processing industry in the ACP countries barely developed. In addition, the unilaterally granted trade advantages were not in accordance with the principles of free world trade. An exemption from the World Trade Organization (WTO) was extended to the end of 2007 for the last time. Cooperation reform became necessary.

The Cotonou Agreement

In 2000, a successor agreement was signed in Cotonou, the capital of Benin, which is valid for a period of twenty years (March 2000 to February 2020). A review of important contractual provisions is mandatory every five years. The third revision in 2015 was suspended in order to be able to begin with the reflections and discussions for a follow-up arrangement after 2020.

The main objective of the Cotonou Agreement is the fight against poverty. The agreement rests on three pillars: development cooperation, economic and trade cooperation (until 2007) and political cooperation. In addition, good governance was established as a fundamental part of the agreement. Another aim of the agreement is to involve civil society organizations and the private sector more closely in development cooperation.

The trade advantages granted to the ACP countries for exports to the EU ended at the beginning of 2008 due to their incompatibility with the rules of the WTO. The Cotonou Agreement provides for unilateral preferences to be replaced by regional economic partnership agreements. Since 2002, the EU Commission has been negotiating such economic partnership agreements with the ACP states under the mandate of the member states. The aim of the agreement is to promote regional integration and sustainable development and to put previous trade relations on a WTO- compliant basis.

African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States