Bridgetown, Barbados 26 March 2019/ACP: ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick Gomes will address a two-day inter-regional high-level consultation in Barbados from 26 to 27 March 2019 on comparative regionalism in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.
The conference, dubbed “Revisiting the Georgetown Agreement: Comparative Region-Building in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific” is being organised by the ACP Secretariat, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation (IPATC), and the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy & Service.
Members of Government, Diplomats, scholars, and civil society actors across the three ACP regions will be invited to discuss selected topics around five broad themes: Region-Building in the Caribbean; Regionalism in the Pacific; Continental Regionalism: The African Union (AU); Region-building in Central, West and Southern Africa and Tripartite Regionalism: the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
The two-day event will be also an opportunity for reflections by public officials and practitioners of international affairs from the global South. Exchanges will be made on the origins, changing context and geo-political dynamics in which the ACP Group of States is crafting amendments to its 1975 Constitutive Act, the Georgetown Agreement.
The 1975 Georgetown Agreement established the ACP. The group comprises Cuba and the 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries which are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement: an accord between the ACP and the European Union (EU). The ACP has 48 members in sub-Saharan Africa, 16 in the Caribbean, and 15 in the Pacific. The four key objectives of the group include: to promote and strengthen unity and solidarity among ACP States; to coordinate the activities of the ACP in the implementation of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement; to consolidate, strengthen, and maintain peace and stability as a precondition for improving the well-being of the one billion-strong ACP population in a democratic and free environment; and to promote and reinforce intra-ACP regional integration so as to enable ACP states to increase their competitiveness and to meet the challenges of globalization.
Region-building and regional integration have the potential to enhance inclusive sustainable economic growth and development, peace, security, justice and good governance in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific regions.
Region-building refers to efforts by states in a common geographical space to cooperate in ways that enhance their political, economic, social, security, and cultural integration. Regional integration presupposes strengthening the capacity of states to perform their core functions. Effective region-building involves democratic governance, visionary leadership, and the adoption of common values. The high cost of doing business due to overlapping regional memberships, inadequate infrastructure, and low levels of intra-regional trade, have all negatively affected region-building and regional integration efforts in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. It is thus important to engage these issues systematically, and to identify appropriate policy responses for enhancing institutional frameworks across all three regions.