THE Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat stands ready to support members, in both advisory and coordination capacities, as they prepare for negotiations of a successor to the Cotonou Agreement.
“The Cotonou Partnership Agreement review process provides us a window of opportunity to reposition ourselves better to achieve a new EU-ACP framework that serves us better,” Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor said at the Pacific ACP Officials meeting this week.
Pacific ACP countries have begun a coordinated approach to the post-Cotonou arrangement negotiations. The Cotonou Agreement, which was signed in 2000 between the ACP Group of States and the European Union ends in February 2020.
In July, the Forum Secretariat was able to assist members in the ACP-EU Regional Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Vanuatu, where PACP parliamentarians shared their views for negotiations of the Post-Cotonou arrangements to be construed as a single legal undertaking with emphasis on the maintenance of the geographic and geo-political character of the ACP Group for the future of the ACP-EU partnership agreement.
Strategic and united approaches as a region was a recurring theme during discussions this week, and recognition that deeper regional integration which will drive productivity and maximize efficiency of resource allocation and investment opportunities, needed to be nurtured by the region.
“It is important that we take heed of the challenges and valuable lessons learnt from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) for the programming of the regional priority areas under the 11th EDF Pacific Regional Indicative Programme. The imperative is placed squarely on our region to be strategic in negotiating future relations with the EU,” Dame Meg said.
Delegates were reminded of the important role played by the Non-State Actors, including the private sector in the region’s relationship with the EU, and its potential to drive regionalism. The Forum Secretariat is the regional focal point for the implementation of the ACP Private Sector Development Strategy, working in partnership with relevant agencies.
“This initiative presents to us opportunities to leverage the implementation of private sector regional priorities,” Dame Meg said.
The Forum Secretariat is engaging with the ACP Secretariat, relevant regional agencies, and Member States to tap into ACP-Private Sector Development Strategy opportunities, especially for the development of our Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.