The President of the Republic of Ghana, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, has urged participants attending the 6th African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Summit to dispassionately deliberate on issues of fair trade, aid, the realisation of the WTO agreements and others that have economic impact on member states.
He said international conferences at all levels are giving increasing attention to the challenge of supporting developing countries, and it is this same awakening that led the United Nations to institute the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), aimed at uplifting developing countries from extreme poverty.
The President was addressing the opening ceremony of the 6th African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Summit in Accra, on the theme, 'Promoting Human Security and Development'. Seventy nine countries from the six regions of the world are attending the four day event.
He said since aid to developing countries, which include ACP countries, tend to be given as charity rather than economic factor for development, it has not been substantial enough and well co-ordinated to properly address problems of poverty, unemployment and high levels of illiteracy.
President Kufuor observed that before the global partnership efforts with preferential treatment with the UN evolved, there have been similar agreements to the ACP and EU partnerships. These special partnerships have now been incorporated under the WTO agreements, which somehow continued to be frustrated by the resistance of developed countries to remove subsidies on their agricultural produce, thereby compromising the very basis of fair trade.
President Kufuor deplored the attitudes of some ACP member countries caught on hand between non-fulfillment of the Doha Round, which would have created a fairer trading system, and the resort to trading arrangements such as the EPAs with the EU, on the other, which tend to undermine our regional integration effort.
The EPAs, according to the President, divide the solidarity that binds the ACP countries together under the pretext of giving regional emphasis to the relationship between the EU and the six ACP regions, adding 'they also threaten to deprive members that do not sign by giving deadlines which could prove catastrophic to our fragile economies'.
He, therefore, called on participants to deliberate on these and other urgent issues such as climate change and its environmental consequences, the current financial crises, turbulence in the oil market, soaring food prices and terrorism from whose negative impact nobody is exempted.
The President of the Republic of Sudan and the out-going Chairman of the 5th ACP Summit, President Omer Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir, said the summit is taking place at a time when power politics dominates international relations.
The simmering signs of Cold War, according President Al-Bashir, may jeopardie the already fragile international stability, adding that 'the declared war on terrorism, in the absence of a concrete definition of the phenomenon, blurs the divide-line between the legitimate right for self-defiance, resistance against corruption, on one hand, and the criminal acts and conduct on the other'.
On the performance of the ACP during the past two years, he said the search for lasting peace and final dispute settlement in the region has not been realised despite several efforts.
Difficulties in securing a fair and sound deal in EPAs negotiation with economic partners as a result of soaring oil and food prices, serious implication of climate change on the economies of ACP countries in time of turbulence and fluctuations, the Doha Round which provides great hopes to some ACP countries are few issues that must be addressed.
President Al-Bashir said EPAs negations have proved that no meaningful economic partnership can be achieved in the absence of real reform in the current international monetary and trading systems. To surmount these obstacles, he called on ACP countries to work collectively, reset their priorities, ensure better control over natural resources, secure equal economic opportunities and fair terms for trade, predictable financial assistance development and debt relief.