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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

Samoa PM cautions ACP Leaders on the future of the group

By Pita Ligaiula in Port Moresby, PNG

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has cautioned the 79 member group of nations of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) against taking decisions that the group is not yet in a position to make regarding its future after 2020.

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific at the opening of the ACP Leaders Summit Tuesday, Tuilaepa said, “This is a defining Summit for the ACP Group and its international partners and they need to make informed and far-reaching decisions.”

“I am aware that the Eminent Persons Group under the able leadership of Chief Obasanjo will formally table its report during our Summit and that Council has considered and endorsed the Ambassadorial Working Group’s Report of the Future Perspectives of our Group. Clearly, the merging of the salient and practical recommendations of both reports on key strategic issues such as “foundation pillars” to guide our work post 2020 is, in our estimation, the way to proceed.

“But I caution against us taking decisions that we are not yet in a position to make regarding our future.  There is too much at stake and too important a matter to be glossed over. Our Council of Ministers could be tasked with examining the modalities and practical structure of our organisation for our final approval in due course,” Tuilaepa told the leaders.

Tuilaepa said the ACP must construct a future that will strengthen its global influence in key strategic areas and utilise their strength in numbers.

“To this end, it is possible to envisage a post-2020 ACP Group as a “cohesive force capable of articulating its shared concerns and interests in a participatory and inclusive manner at the global level. A group with strong and effective institutions geared towards speedy and timely decision-making and implementation. A group focusing on and embracing its constituents and development partners, capable of demonstrating its value-added and utility. A group that will forge new links and strengthen existing ones, recommended the Samoan PM.  

He said one thing is certain, the ACP will face many challenges that will test its resolve as a group in the coming years.

“Some will be familiar; others will be new and untested. But the common denominator is the imperative for us to meet them together and front-on with clarity of purpose and vision, unwavering commitment, renewed hope as was evident in Sipopo, and above all in unity and solidarity. There is no other choice but to succeed – it is a moral imperative and our duty to the people we are honoured to represent and to serve.

“We are a group steeped in traditions that cherish our diversity, seek to uphold the rule of law and the principles of democracy and good governance, believe in the equality of opportunities for all our communities and above all in seeing poverty become a thing of the past and the attainment of sustainable development.  

“We must never forget the hopes of our peoples, whether in the land continent of Africa, or the ocean continents of the Caribbean and the Pacific. For we all share a strong and common commitment to remove injustice and poverty,” he explained.

Tuilaepa said what the ACP Group, is and will be, depends on the Leaders here at this Summit in Papua New Guinea.

“We must look to the future with renewed hope and belief.  We are one family, he said.

Tuilaepa stressed that leaders should consider the best options to reposition the group to meet the future challenges that await them as well as effectively respond to the development needs of the ACP.  

“My final words are to the EU. You have stood by the ACP for over four decades and together we have witnessed strong improvements in the development of our respective countries. But together we can do more and better. Lessons from the past will help us in this regard, in particular those associated with Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations and political dialogue under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement.  

“As we look beyond 2020, my sincere expectation is for us to engage more in genuine political dialogue that will fast track our collective decision making process and thereby arrive at an ACP-EU partnership that will endure for the next 40 years. A partnership that we can all be proud of, that encapsulates the aspirations and hopes of our peoples, and ultimately will launch the next generations of our communities into a more prosperous and peaceful future,” said PM Tuilaepa.

ACP Leaders Summit Chair and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said if ACP is to stay relevant the Groupings vision needs to change to keep up with today’s changing world.

“As one of the biggest international groupings, it is frustrating to see that ACP economic relations have not fundamentally changed and that the political significance of the ACP Group is still marginal.”

He said ACP should focus on trade and investment, increase political dialogue and advocacy, and diversify development and international cooperation.

“We lack trade and investment vertically and horizontally within the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific region. The Group should seriously embark on greater intra-ACP cooperation among ACP member states, firstly starting within the six sub regions of the ACP.

“If ACP is to be relevant and responsive to its members given the rapid rate of globalisation, it requires a major restructure in order to change its core business to one that is trade and investment oriented.”

“As we know, multilateral forums such as the WTO, APEC and ASEAN have undertaken reforms to keep up to speed with trade and investment as new engines of global trade.”

“For these reasons, many countries are teaming up into trading blocks and these re manifested in the establishment of Free Trade Agreement/Regional Trade Agreements in order for them to gain trade and investment market benefits.”

“It is incumbent on ACP Leaders and stakeholders to start the conversation going forward or whether the organisation remains as it is or undertake structural reforms to keep pace with the rapid globalising trend,” O’Neill told leaders.


Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article


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