Eminent Persons Group concludes the final round of regional consultations on future perspectives of the ACP
Luanda, Angola, 2 September 2014/ ACP: The Eminent Persons Group (EPG) has concluded the final round of regional consultations in Luanda, Angola as part of an 18-month review of the ACP Group.
The consultations sought to gather insights and opinions from key stakeholders in Southern Africa on the past performance, present challenges and future orientation of the ACP Group. In attendance were senior government officials, high-level representatives of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the SADC Parliamentary Forum, COMESA, and members of the private sector and civil society
The meeting, which was the last in a series of six sub-regional consultations with representatives of Member States, international organizations and the ACP long-term development partner, the European Union (EU); were led by the EPG Chairman and former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chair of the EPG Drafting Committee and former Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, Mrs. Patricia Francis; former United Nations Assistant Secretary General, Professor Ibrahima Fall; former Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, Mr. Peter Gakunu and Professor Sebastiao Isata from Angola.
The meeting was opened by the Angolan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Georges Rebelo Pinto Chicoti. At the opening session, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (pictured above), said, “There is a need to renew the political commitment to the ACP Group to ensure its continued existence and strengthened functioning. However, that political will and commitment will only be achieved if there are common interests that can keep the ACP Group together.”
“It is clear though from consultations held with other regions that there is adequate political will for the Group to continue to exist, but it needs to be reinvented in line with the new world paradigm and focus on a few core, niche areas that the Group is better able to handle than existing institutions, in line with the principle of subsidiarity and comparative advantage,” Chief Obasanjo said.
ACP Secretary-General Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, said “The ACP is the largest trans-regional intergovernmental organisation of developing countries in the international system. The collective strength of the ACP Group derives from decades of inter-regional solidarity, international trade negotiations, development finance cooperation, political dialogue and relations with other international organisations.”
“There is potential to build on this numeric strength to promote the collective cause of some of the poorest countries in the world, with opportunity to establish crucial alliances not only with Europe, but with some of the emerging global players in the world economy,” Mr Mumuni said.
The opening session was also addressed by Professor Sebastiao Isata EPG member from Angola who noted that “what we need today are not relationships based on dependency theory, but rather on parity and comparative advantage”. Professor Isata invited the meeting to consider establishing a development bank for the ACP, a solidarity fund and a monetary fund to ensure financial sustainability for supporting ACP´s socio-economic development. He also called for establishment of an ACP University.
Key themes that have emerged out of the meetings included the need to revitalize the ACP group building on ACP-EU cooperation while diversifying partnerships with other groupings in the North and in the South to meet new challenges; boost intra-ACP cooperation and regional economic integration, streamlining the core mandate of the organization and focusing on niche areas such as trade and investments; exploitation of natural resources for the benefit of ACP populations, inclusive development that addresses the youth and women, fuller involvement of the private sector and civil society in implementing the future mandate, the need for financial sustainability, and transforming the governance structure, including the ACP Secretariat, to be more effective.
The findings of the Southern African region consultative process will be tabled at the next meeting of the EPG Drafting Committee in Geneva next week as the Group prepares the final details of its report.
The final EPG Report, which is due to be presented at the Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government later this year, will outline the findings of the regional consultations along key recommendations on the future orientation of the ACP Group. The Report will also include an implementation strategy for the Group in the lead up to the conclusion of its cornerstone partnership with the EU, known as the Cotonou Agreement, which comes to an end in 2020.
(Photo: Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in Luanda, Angola this week/ Angola Press Agency/Lucas Neto).
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