Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, 16 December 2012: The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States wrapped up a successful 2-day summit for Heads of States and Government on 13-14 December at the Grand Sipopo International Conference Centre in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, committing to intensified South-South cooperation, while calling for more development-friendly relations with European partners.

The 72-point Sipopo Declaration addressed broad areas of peace, security and good governance; development finance; international trade; energy, climate change and sustainable development; and the future outlook of the ACP Group as an international institution.

In particular, the outcome document highlighted members’ determination to “stay united as a Group” and retain relevance by “enhancing the ACP-EU relationship as a unique North-South development cooperation model, while developing South-South and other partnerships.”

The document lauded the EU’s efforts in helping ACP countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals, while urging that the European Development Fund (EDF) remain outside the regular EU budget framework as a mechanism of development financing for the ACP countries. Leaders also expressed concern over the notion of differentiation and graduation in allocating development funds, calling on the EU to keep to the legal framework of the Cotonou Agreement.

On trade, ACP leaders emphasized “development-friendly” Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between ACP countries and the EU, insisting on coherence between European development and trade policies. Taking a stand against proposed amendments to Market Access Regulation 1528/2007 as well as the Generalised System Preferences (GSP), leaders appealed for a “joint ACP-EU high level political engagement” to be convened to resolve pending issues.

Looking towards the future of the 79-member Group, ACPHeads of State noted the need to shape a more dynamic and innovative ACP Group to engage with the EU in the third five-year review of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2015. They welcomed plans to set up an Eminent Persons’ Group to revive the vision, mission and response of the ACP Group to global challenges.

High level delegates from at least 63 countries, including more than 15 national heads attended the conference. Representing the regions, this included Benin President and President-in-Office of the African Union, H.E. Mr Yayi Boni, St Lucia Prime Minister and Chair of the Caribbean Community Hon. Dr Kenny Anthony, and Cook Islands Prime Minister and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Hon. Mr Henry Puna, along with the Presidents of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Togo, Zimbabwe, the Prime Minister of Namibia, Vice Presidents of Burundi, Seychelles, Sudan and Deputy Prime Ministers of Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.

Participants at the Seventh Summit reaffirmed their solidarity as the collective voice of the 79-member intergovernmental body, representing a population of 930 million people. As the new republic of South Sudan joins the organisation, membership will expand to 80 nations.

Special guests such as African Union Commissioner H.E Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, European Commissioner for Development Mr Andris Piebalgs, and Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliament Assembly Hon. Louis Michel were also present.

(Pictured from top: Sipopo Conference Centre in Malabo, hosted the 7th Summit for ACP Heads of State [Photo by AFP/Xavier Bourgois]; More than 20 Heads of State, Government and Deptu Heads of State and Government attended the summit; Leaders at the summit; President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbsogo of Equatorial Guinea and President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon; ACP Secretary General Sr Mohamed Ibn Chambas in discussions with Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbsogo)

– ACP Press