H. E. Mr. Philippe Maystadt, President of the European Investment Bank, Excellencies, Distinguished Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me begin by thanking the European Investment Bank for hosting this meeting and for welcoming us so warmly.

Thanks also for giving me the opportunity to address this meeting. As you would note, the ACP delegation is much larger this year compared to previous ones; this is a clear indication of the strong and growing interests, the ACP group has in the Investment Facility and of its catalytic potential for fostering investment and hence sustainable economic development in our countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen, As you are aware, the latest analysis by the IMF indicates positive improvement in the world economic situation over the past year, with global output forecast to reach 4.5 percent by year’s end 2011. This recovery, however, remains rather unbalanced.

Within some of our EU partner countries, in particular Greece and Ireland, challenges still remain with regard to the banking sector and with regard to public finances. Unemployment in the Euroland remains a critical challenge. In many of our ACP countries, rising food and commodity prices pose a threat to the most vulnerable segments of the population. Indeed, commodity prices have increased more than expected, due to a combination of strong demand growth and supply shocks.

Rising commodity prices, on the other hand, represent a tremendous opportunity, which, if appropriately tapped, could provide added scope for the economic growth in the ACP countries. Likewise, investment in value-added processing of commodities, in the production of which the ACP has demonstrated some comparative advantage, would allow our exporters to exert greater control over a larger portion of their products in the value-chain. This would thus offer them higher returns and increased protection against terms of trade fluctuations while boosting employment and incomes.

In addition Private-Public Partnership (PPPs) can provide a fast-tracking mean to promote trade and industrial growth, investment and competitiveness, through knowledge transfer and commercialisation of innovation in ACP countries. I note here that as a result of the revision of the Cotonou Agreement in 2010, the EIB’s role in PPPs has been enhanced. Mr.

President, The EIB through the Investment Facility has the potential to assist ACP countries in the structural transformation of our industries into competitive ones. For this to happen however we must ensure that there is greater efficiency in the delivery of funds to the ACP countries and regions.

In addition, improved coordination at strategic levels would definitely benefit ACP countries and regions. In this regard, we welcome the recent initiative of the CDE and EIB in supporting SMEs in the Caribbean and Pacific regions through a dedicated Technical Assistance Facility. We hope that this approach would effectively assist SMEs in improving their access to finance.

No doubt, such collaboration will build on the respective strength of the CDE and that of the EIB, for the benefit of the Caribbean and Pacific States. Similar initiatives for other ACP regions are greatly encouraged. In the same vein, we cannot but encourage the EIB to also strengthen coordination and synergies with other International Financial Institutions and Development Financial Institutions at both the strategic and operational levels, in line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

Excellencies, The Secretariat on its part also look forward to closer cooperation with the EIB in the area of Microfinance, which we understand also feature high on the EIB agenda. As you are aware, the ACP Secretariat in collaboration with the European Commission co-manages the ACP/EU Microfinance Programme, which targets the most vulnerable segments of the population. An envelope of 15 Millions Euro is earmarked for this programme under the 10th EDF.

Certainly we have lessons and best practices to share on this subject. Likewise we also look forward to engaging with the EIB on the issue of mineral resources. Indeed, the ACP is in the process of elaborating a Framework of Action for the Development of Mineral Resources in ACP countries that would complement existing national and regional initiatives.

We hope the EIB will be involved in these reflections on the way forward so that, together, we explore all avenues for technical and financial support measures that can be made available to assist ACP States in developing their mineral resources sector. As we look to the future, we have good reason to be hopeful.

In our highly interdependent world, the ACP and the EU will continue to need each other, even as we explore more viable frameworks for our enduring partnership in the years ahead.

On this note, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I conclude my intervention. I thank you for your attention.