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National heads from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) will convene this week in the Central African Republic of Equatorial Guinea for the 7th Summit for ACP Heads of State and Governments.
Under the theme 'The Future of the ACP Group in a Changing World: Challenges and Opportunities', the summit is set to be a milestone for the 79-member bloc, which includes 40 Least Developed Countries and 36 Small Island Developing States.
Envoys from key international bodies such as the European Commission, the African Union, various United Nations agencies, as well as partner governments are also expected.
'The world has gone through major economic and political shifts since the last ACP summit in 2008 in Accra, Ghana. We therefore need to re-evaluate the role of our Group and how to best serve the interests of our member states and the 930 million people that inhabit them,' said ACP Secretary General Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas.
'There is certainly great potential and solidarity in the ACP's alliance of developing countries, and we need to capitalise on this to have a stronger and more unified voice on the global stage.'
Discussions on the future of the ACP Group will focus on trade issues, including the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union, as well as the nature of ACP-EU relations in general.
They will also cover peace, security, and good governance in ACP states and regions; the future of development finance (including the European Development Fund) and post-Busan partnerships; improved intra-ACP cooperation; and diversified partnerships such bodies such as the BRICS countries.
A session on environment, climate change and food security, along with a high level dialogue on energy and sustainable development are also on the agenda. The summit will also include preliminary ministerial meetings from the 10th to 12th December.
The ACP Group was founded as an intergovernmental organisation in 1975. All members, except Cuba, share a privileged relationship with the European Union under the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement ('Cotonou Accord'), built on trade relations, development cooperation and political dialogue. South Sudan will become the Group's 80th member at its upcoming accession to the Cotonou Agreement.