Caricom Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, said that in order for the African Caribbean Pacific grouping to remain relevant, the institution must adapt to the new global realities with a vision that should entail being a strong and dynamic with no fear of the future.
Addressing the opening ceremony of a two day CARIFORUM stakeholders consultation with the ACP Eminent Persons’ Group on the future of the ACP, he said that there are a number of global development which have impacted the ACP group of states both collectively and as individual states.
“Emerging global challenges and reactions to these challenges constitute another development helping to shape operation conditions for the ACP group of states and individual ACP states,” he told the participants, while explaining that the changing global economic and geopolitical realities have altered the landscape in which the ACP operates.
“The earlier emergence of Newly Industrialised Countries and the current importance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, have served to change the global financial and economic balance of power,” he elaborated. “The importance of BRICS and the G20 as influential political and economic actors, illustrate that changing economic and geopolitical environment,” he added.
LaRocque also explained that the establishment of the World Trade Organisation with increased emphasis on rules for goods and services has also served to change the economic development and relationship which was commonplace when the ACP was created back in 1972.
The main objective of the consultation with the group of eminent persons is to chart the way forward for the ACP group in repositioning itself as a more robust and effective global player in post-2015 and beyond 2020 when the Cotonou Agreement expires.
In his address, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell gave the assurance that CARIFORUM remains deeply committed to ACP and the members are committed to continuing and sustaining the relevance and effectiveness by deepening and enhancing the relations with the EU in a unique North-South development cooperation model.
“At this juncture in its history, the ACP Group needs a serious and fundamental reassessment of its purposes if it is to continue to e of relevance, and to play a key role in the overall development of ACP countries and their people,” he told the consultation.
“It cannot be business as usual and the status quo is not an option. The EU is undergoing tremendous changes and transformation — in its constitution, policy orientation, memberships, as well as in its institutions and financial perspectives. As a result, those issues will have to be taken into consideration in any future ACP–EU relations,” said Prime Minister Mitchell, as he called for the ACP countries to not only take stock of the past achievements and challenges but to reflect on its future.
He told the participants that it is necessary that they start thinking about what should be the successor agreement for the ACP when Cotonou expires because a lot has changed over the life of the partnership between the ACP and the EU.
Calling for a re-invigoration of the group so that it can be able to withstand the global challenges as well as to face the new challenges such as climate change and food security, Dr Mitchell who is also the Minister for Finance said that the world is a very different place than it used to be five years ago.
“We must consider the issues of poverty, rising debt, food security, access to technologies; while at the same time, improve in areas such as South South competitiveness, productivity, human resource skills, quality of education and climate change,” he told the participants which comprised representatives from government of CARIFORUM.
The consultation took place at the Grenada Grand Beach Convention Centre.
by Linda Straker