ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (ACP) — Stakeholders from Caribbean governments, private sector bodies and civil society will tackle critical questions about the future outlook of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of countries, including the region’s stakes in the world’s largest intergovernmental association of developing countries.
The ACP Eminent Persons Group (EPG) will host two days of consultations from 1 to 2 November in Grenada following the CARIFORUM senior officials and Council of Ministers meeting earlier in the week. The talks aim to gather the region’s views on “re-inventing” ACP Group as a global player, and the future orientations of ACP-EU relations beyond 2020.
“It’s really looking up to the future in what will happen when the Cotonou Agreement [framework for ACP-EU partnership] expires in 2020,” said the vice-chair of the ACP EPG, former president of the Dominican Republic Dr Leonel Fernández Reyna.
“A lot has been happening in the world, in the European Union and also in the ACP countries. We need to adjust our future relationship within a new context, within a new paradigm shift that has taken place in terms of international relations, and a new perspective… The whole the whole idea of cooperation, trade and political dialogue will go into a process of transformation.”
Reyna is joined by fellow Caribbean members of the EPG, including former president of Guyana Bharatt Jagdeo as co-vice chair, and former executive director of the International Trade Centre Patricia Francis of Jamaica.
“There has been a lot of soul-searching that we have been going through, as to what is the essence of the ACP that we want going forward? What are the kinds of values that we have in common that we want to retain? What is it that we think we can achieve going forward, recognising the huge diversity that we have in the ACP itself? … We want to make sure that the ACP articulates its position clearly as to what it wants and then looks at what are the partnerships that can add value to this position,” said Francis, in explaining the key issues.
The meeting is the second in a series of six rounds of consultation in the various ACP subgroups. The first was held 17-19 October in Samoa (Pacific region), with four more to go in the Eastern, Western, Central and Southern African regions. Outcomes of these meetings will feed into a final report to be presented to the eighth summit of ACP heads of state and government, projected to take place in the Caribbean in December 2014.
The 12-member ACP Eminent Persons Group is chaired by former president of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. The seventh Summit of the ACP heads of states and government, held in Equatorial Guinea on 13-14 December 2012, mandated the creation of the EPG to examine the overall framework of ACP-EU cooperation, and provide concrete recommendations for the future of the ACP as an intergovernmental body.