Barbados to host ACP conference on pushing small and medium enterprises

By CMC

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(CMC) – Barbados will host a two day private sector consultation on the post-Cotonou agreement early next month that the organisers said is intended to producing an African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) private sector declaration as inputs to be made available to the ACP technical negotiating team.

The Cotonou Agreement is a treaty between the European Union (EU) and the ACP that was signed in June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin’s largest city. It entered into force in 2003 and was subsequently revised in 2005 and 2010. The current agreement expires in 2020.

It is regarded as the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU and in 2010, ACP-EU cooperation has been adapted to new challenges such as climate change, food security, regional integration, state fragility and aid effectiveness.

The fundamental principles of the Cotonou Agreement include equality of partners, global participation, dialogue and regionalisation. The agreement is re-examined every five years.

The first round of the new negotiations began last week and Article 95 of the Cotonou Agreement requires partners to enter into negotiations at least 18 months before the expiry of the current deal.

“Against this background, an ACP private sector consultation on the post-Cotonou negotiations is being organized by the ACP Secretariat with the support of Business ACP and ACP private sector organizations with the intended outcome of producing an ACP private sector declaration/position as inputs to be made available to the ACP technical negotiating team on post-Cotonou,” the organisers said.

They said the objectives of the November 1-2 meeting are to inform the ACP private sector on Post-Cotonou negotiation process and issues; to develop a private sector position on the future relationship among the ACP States as well as to input and issue an ACP private sector position on the Post-Cotonou negotiations and to officially launch the “ACP Business Forum”.

“The ACP Business Forum will also interact with sister organizations in Europe and elsewhere with the objective of promoting dialogue, trade, investment and partnerships for the industrialization of ACP regions and countries. Ultimately, it is envisaged that an ACP Business Council be created,” the organisers said.

The ACP Secretariat, with the technical assistance of Business ACP, will support the launching of the

ACP Business Forum which will be a platform to facilitate dialogue among and bring together the ACP private sector, they added.

The Assistant Secretary-General of the ACP Group, Sustainable Economic Development and Trade Department, Viwanou Gnassounou will be among the speakers at the opening ceremony on November 1.

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