Address by SG Slade at the Pacific Conference on the Future of the ACP Group, Apia, Samoa


17-19 October 2013
Apia, Samoa


Message by



Hon Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Lupesoli’ai Sa’ilele Malielegaoi

Your Excellency the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Mr Christopher Jorebon Loeak

Secretary General of the ACP Group, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni

Eminent Persons Group  Member, Mr Kaliopate Tavola

Deputy Head of the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Mr Johnny Engell-Hansen

Hon Ministers and Members of Parliament, Diplomatic Corps, High Commissioners and GROP agency Representatives

Ambassadors of the region

Private Sector and Civil Society Representatives



1. It is significant that this is the first of the seven ACP regional configurations to hold the consultations on the future of ACP – and we should not lose the significance of the occasion.

2. To better fix on that future, we need to reflect on the historic first steps of the signing of the Georgetown Agreement and the imagination and determination over almost four decades or so for strengthening the political and economic relationship of ACP member countries with the European Union, and to do so with principles and the clarity of purpose for eradicating poverty, achieving sustainable development and working towards the smooth and gradual integration of ACP States into the global economy.  That purpose is undiminished and remains true; and the principles set remain the high principles for the future of the Group beyond 2020.

Continuation of the ACP Group

 3. The journey thus far has been arduous but illustrious, with challenges overcome and with notable achievements recorded.  And yet, the evidence we have, including from the excellent commentary papers arranged for this meeting, is that the results could have been better.  That needs now to change for the future.  The ACP itself must set high the challenge for reform and for strengthening of its ways, so that it remains relevant and effective for its members, and adaptable and responsive to the shifting ever globalising geopolitical and economic factors.  In my view there needs to be clear demonstration of ACP ownership and self confidence and unquestioned commitment to the purpose and the surety of its own future.

4. Comprehensive economic partnership agreements between the ACP regions and the European Union are expected to pave the path for better trade and socio-economic development cooperation between the EU and the ACP regions, and are expected to outlive the Cotonou Agreement.  These good intentions are yet to be realised in the form of a comprehensive EPA between the Pacific region and the EU.  We need to remain hopeful that a meaningful EPA will be concluded in support of the Pacific ACP members’ development needs, with allocation of resources that will assist in effective implementation of the EPA. 

 South-South Cooperation

 5. I believe that the ACP as a group is well placed to explore further ways of extending its influence in international relations.  As the largest political and economic grouping of developing countries and guardians of a significant proportion of the world’s natural resources in terms of minerals and food commodities, the ACP ought naturally to be in a position of centre prominence, and not constrained, as often the case, to remain on the sidelines of international relations and policy making.  An important area of engagement that should be led by the ACP Group would be South-South inventiveness and collaboration, in all its aspects.  As it is, the Group already has the correct insights and, I feel quite certain, the full range of capacities, to respond with inherent understanding the needs and vulnerabilities of LDCs and small island developing economies.

 6. A key objective for strengthening the ACP beyond the year 2020 should be to ensure that the ACP group is not only represented at the negotiating table, but also that the shared voice of ACP concerns is clearly heard.  With group solidarity and coherence, there cannot be a more compelling voice than that of the ACP countries on poverty, climate change, sustainable development goals and other major challenges of our time.

 7. This morning, both the Prime Minister of Samoa and the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands have urged solidarity and cohesion.

Quest for Regionalism

8. These are also the issues of foremost importance to the Pacific ACP countries, in respect of which we would envisage the ACP Secretariat as playing a greater role in building crucial alliances not only with Europe but with some of the emerging global players in the world economy.  Work must begin in earnest to shape the ACP group and the ACP Secretariat into a more dynamic and political organisation with internal working structures that are both cognisant of the challenges, but also well and properly equipped to deal with them.

 9. In terms of cohesion, let me here direct attention to the Pacific Plan, which is the master strategy for Pacific regionalism.  The Plan is currently under review and we will have the finalised report this month.  The overall objective of the Pacific Plan review is to assess the effectiveness and ensure the continued relevance of the Pacific Plan as the master strategy for regional integration and cooperation.  

 10. There is a compelling argument for greater regional cooperation and integration across the Pacific, and the solution lies in re-establishing a robust political process around regionalism.  I am confident that the reviewed Pacific Plan will provide the framework for advancing the political principle of regionalism through robust, inclusive processes of political dialogue, the expression of political values about regionalism and sovereignty, and the decisive and effective implementation of key, game-changing, drivers of regional integration.  We cannot allow for the unilateral division and fragmentation of the region, for whatever country or personal cause.  There are simply not good enough reasons, or enough development resources, for that. 

 11. I believe we can draw useful lessons from the Pacific Plan for the future of the ACP Group.

 12. I think it is quite apparent that the ACP Grouping cannot continue on a “business as usual” track, with a primary focus on the EU and its funding facilities.  If we are to move ahead and beyond 2020 we need to be willing to explore far-sighted prospects and opportunities.  We need to foster true political, economic and trade independence with greater possibilities.  We are all moved and motivated by a common history and it is now time to seize the opportunities that lie ahead for the betterment of the ACP region, our countries and our peoples. 


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