Apia, 25 October 2013/ ACP: The approaching expiry of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the European Union (EU), has prompted reflections within the Group on its future, post 2020. The third and final revision of the Cotonou Agreement in 2015 is also of significance.
To this end, The Pacific Conference on the Future Perspectives for the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) beyond 2020, held from 17 to 19 October 2013 in Samoa, was aimed at soliciting the views and perspectives of the Pacific stakeholders and to arrive at a Pacific position on the future of the ACP. The conference was the first regional consultation to feed into the work of the ACP Eminent Persons’ Group, which was set up to deepen and widen the reflections on the future of the ACP.
The conference was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Dr Tuilaepa Fatialofa Lupesoli'ai Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, and the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, H.E. Christopher Loeak, in his capacity as the Chair of the Pacific ACP Leaders Meeting. Attended by the Secretaries-General of the ACP Group and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, a member of the ACP Eminent Persons Group from the Pacific, representatives of Government, National Parliaments, civil society and the private sector, the conference recognised the significance of ACP's partnership with the EU, one of the biggest development partners for the Group. The participants urged that in any future relations with the EU, the priorities and challenges which are pertinent to the Pacific are not overshadowed by issues affecting other regions of the ACP or the EU agenda.
There was a general consensus that the ACP Group should remain, but in a re-calibrated form that ensures its relevance, effectiveness and visibility as a twenty first century organisation, and as a platform for a global voice for developing countries. There was support for retaining the relationship with the EU, while also expanding relations to newly emerging actors to keep abreast of the global geopolitical changes.
The Pacific focus which was brought out in the reflections, was the advancement of global dialogue and action on its identified priorities and challenges: climate change, renewable energy, sustainable development and management of natural resources including marine resources. The conference recognised that combating these challenges could only be done effectively, if the essential and fundamental elements of democracy, rule of law and good governance were observed. Other areas of importance to the Pacific that could be addressed at an all ACP level are: the post 2015 development framework; investment and the role of the private sector, labour mobility and the related issues of migration and remittances, engagement through sports and culture, and South-South cooperation.
Regional cooperation and integration play a significant part in developing the economies of Pacific countries. In this regard, the conference noted that the Pacific Plan, currently under review, provides for a setting of regional priorities for the Pacific.
The conclusions and recommendations of the conference will be presented to the next meeting of the Pacific ACP leaders for their endorsement of a Pacific position on the future of the ACP.
(Pictured: Group photo of the EPG First Consultation Meeting in Samoa)