Brussels 13 May 2015/ ACP: In their first official statements to fellow ambassadors from the 79-member African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, the top envoys from the Republics of Fiji and Cabo Verde to Brussels called for the Group’s stronger focus on issues faced by small island countries.
Ambassador Jorges Alberto da Silva Borges, who was formerly Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cabo Verde, voiced his support for the creation of a special forum for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) within the ACP Group as a key platform for dialogue.
He highlighted issues related to graduation, debt sustainability, the blue economy and climate change, as vital for discussion, especially in promoting the ‘Samoa Pathway’ – the strategy document that culminated the 3rd International Conference on SIDS held last September.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Deo Saran of Fiji stressed the vulnerability of small island economies to the effects of climate change, pointing to the recent devastation caused by Cyclone Pam in the Pacific countries of Vanuatu, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands.
“In addition to the loss of many precious lives, it will take millions of dollars to rehabilitate and reconstruct these economies. I therefore urge that climate change and disaster management issues related to small and vulnerable economies are treated with greater consideration,” he told ambassadors.
As the former CEO of the Fiji Sugar Corporation, Ambassador Saran welcomed deepened relations between the ACP and the European Union, but warned against the planned 2017 abolition of sugar quotas by the EU which would jeopardise ACP sugar suppliers. He also expressed concern that the long-running negotiations for a trade deal between the Pacific region and the EU have been put on hold.
These calls follow the proposal made in the Final Report of the Ambassadorial Working Group on Future Perspectives for the ACP, approved by the Council of Ministers in December 2014, that the ACP Group set up a Forum on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as a permanent mechanism to implement the ‘SAMOA Pathway’. The initiative was reiterated by the Ambassador of Vanuatu, H.E Roy Mickey Joy in his capacity as Chair of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors.
Fiji is an archipelago in the Pacific region with a population of nearly 900,000 and an economy dependent on the sugar, agriculture, fishing and tourism industries. Cabo Verde, a group of islands located off the coast of West Africa, has about 525,000 people with a service-oriented economy based on commerce, transport, and public services accounting. They are two of 37 member countries of the ACP Group which are classified as SIDS.
(Photo: Fijian Ambassador H.E. Mr. Deo Saran and Cabo Verdian Ambassador H.E. Mr. Jorge Borges.)
– ACP Press