The Herald (Harare)

14 December 2012

Africa: Mugabe Expected to Address ACP Summit

Malabo — President Mugabe is expected to address the 7th Heads of States and Governments Summit of the African, Caribbean and Pacific on behalf of Southern Africa here during the summit's closed door meetings.

The summit opened yesterday at the Sipopo International Conference Centre with member countries calling for a review of the trade partnership between ACP member states and the European Union.

The Economic Partnership Agreements between ACP and the EU also come under intense discussion at the summit.

In his opening remarks, secretary general of the ACP Group Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas said serious financial challenges in Europe had tested and shaken the traditional economic giants, thereby bringing new world economic order.

As such, he said there was a need for ACP member states to "think outside the box" and devise means and ways of surviving.

"We also need to change the way we do business. Old attitudes need to be changed . . . ," said Mr Chambas.

"In the world of increased uncertainties, we must be prepared to think outside the box to come up with bold alternatives to ensure that ACP does not only survive, but flourishes in the years ahead."

Dr Chambas said although Europe was the biggest donor to ACP countries, it was important to consider opportunities presented by other world emerging economic giants.

He said the emerging giants hinged their relationship with ACP countries on a more win-win situation.

"Europe remains the biggest donor to ACP countries . . . but we also have to acknowledge that the emergence of other economic giants such as the BRICS (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) offer a window of opportunity," said Mr Chambas.

"They (Brics) bring a fresh attitude and mind instead of seeing our nations as problems. They see ACP as an opportunity to explore for mutual benefit."

ACP, said Dr Chambas, was among the fastest developing regions in the world and should intensify efforts to claim a better position at international level.

He said the group's efforts were being hindered by constrained budgets.

Dr Chambas implored member states to pay their contributions to ensure effective running of the group.

Outgoing ACP President John Mahama of Ghana said it was time for member states to shoulder the future of their countries.

"The time has come to take our future in our hands," he said. "We must pursue new approaches to ACP-EU trade, while accelerating strategies that boost trade and investment."

President Mahama said EPAS were one of the thorny issues disturbing ACP-EU trade relationship.

He said although negotiations started way back between most ACP member states and the EU, no agreement was reached.

In the case of the Caribbean where agreements were reached, President Mahama said implementation was still a challenge.

African Union chairperson and Benin President Yayi Boni said the ACP-EU partnership needed to be adjusted.

He said it was important to open new prospects of investment and future development.

Incoming ACP chair and Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said the ACP should reflect on its future within the purview of a dynamic world. He said the ACP should not only be a recipient of aid from the EU, but the relationship should benefit both parties.

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