Private sector, labour mobility discussed at ACP consultations


<p style="text-align: justify;">Pacific stakeholders of the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Group of States held consultations in Apia, Samoa last month with an ACP-appointed Eminent Person’s Group (EPG) on the future of the continuance of the organization beyond 2020. <!--more--></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the ACP and the European Union expires in that year and the third and final revision of the agreement is scheduled for 2015.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The agreement covers a broad range of cooperation arrangements including trade between ACP members and the member nations of the European Community. This includes tariff free access for ACP country manufactured products into the European market, such as Fiji-made sugar.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Apia consultation was aimed at soliciting the views and perspectives of the Pacific stakeholders and to arrive at a Pacific position on the future of the ACP. The conference was the first regional consultation to feed into the work of the ACP Eminent Persons’ Group, which was set up to deepen and widen the reflections on the future of the ACP. The EPG met Caribbean stakeholders last week.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Topics discussed included climate change, renewable energy, sustainable development and management of natural resources including marine resources. Other areas of importance to the Pacific that addressed were: the post 2015 development framework; investment and the role of the private sector, labour mobility and the related issues of migration and remittances, engagement through sports and culture, and South-South cooperation.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Attended by the Secretaries-General of the ACP Group and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, besides several senior officials of stakeholder organizations, the participants urged that in any future relations with the EU, the priorities and challenges that are pertinent to the Pacific are not overshadowed by issues affecting other regions of the ACP or the EU’s own agenda.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">There was a general consensus that the ACP Group should remain, but in a re-calibrated form that ensures its relevance, effectiveness and visibility as a twenty first century organization, and as a platform for a global voice for developing countries. There was support for retaining the relationship with the EU, while also expanding relations to newly emerging actors to keep abreast of the global geopolitical changes.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The conclusions and recommendations of the conference will be presented to the next meeting of the Pacific ACP leaders for their endorsement of a Pacific position on the future of the ACP.</p>