The Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, has called on African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to move with the changing times in their efforts to advance the cause of their peoples.
He said embracing modernity and information technology in their quest to ensure the peaceful and equitable distribution of wealth to their peoples would send positive signals to the world and attract the support of the international community.
“We should embrace the changing world and use the opportunity to remind the world that the ACP group is still vibrant and ready to contribute its quota to the world economy,” Dr Osei said in Accra yesterday when he opened a Council of Ministers meeting preceding the sixth ACP Summit.
The preliminary meeting, on the theme, “Promoting human security and development”, will receive the draft agenda from the Committee of Ambassadors after its meeting in Brussels.
The draft agenda will then be submitted to a joint meeting of ACP ministers and ACP ministers of Foreign Affairs, which will finalise it for adoption by the Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government on Thursday.
Among the issues that made it to the draft agenda are the rising food prices, energy solutions, as well as ongoing negotiations on a free trade agreement the group is pursuing with the European Union (EU).
Dr Osei also called on ACP countries to use the Accra Summit to deliberate on important issues of the world that also affected the economies of member states, saying doing so would emphasise and keep alive the evergreen principles of the group of enhancing the well-being of its citizens.
He also stressed the importance of negotiations with the EU to sign full Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), as the European bloc was the region's closest trading partner.
A message from the President of the Sudan, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, who hosted the fifth ACP Summit in Khartoum a couple of years ago, reminded the delegates and ministers of some of the greatest challenges facing their economies.
These include the global financial crisis, the recent floods and hurricanes, the worsening desertification and the escalating prices of food and oil, which he stated “all serve to remind us about how fragile our countries are, and that climate change and the movement of people are two of the greatest challenges of the 21st century”.
President Al-Bashir said ACP countries were also concerned about the impact of the EPAs and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade regimes on the future of their economies, livelihoods, human security and sustainable development.
“We would like to see these processes contributing to the positive integration of ACP states in the global economy, not further marginalisation and dependency on donor assistance,” he stated.
Speaker after speaker took turns to offer their condolences to the country, as well as the family of the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, whom they remember as having been very committed and instrumental in the work of the ACP.
The ACP group started with 46 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in 1975 and its constitution was finalised and adopted as part of the Georgetown Agreement of June 1976.
The group is currently made up of 79 member states, comprising 48 sub-Saharan African countries, 16 Caribbean and 15 Pacific states.
The Summit of Heads of State is its highest decision-making body.
The summit is held biennially, with the last session having been hosted by the Sudan two years ago.
Since 1997, the Heads of State and Government of ACP member states have been meeting regularly to lay down the broad guidelines for the general policy of the ACP Group and to give the ACP Council of Ministers instructions relating to its implementation.
The summit is presided over by the Head of State or Government of the host country.
Story by Samuel Doe Ablordeppey