Today, 7th June, Jamaica joins seventy-eight (78) other African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, with a collective population of 1.1 billion persons in celebrating ACP Day 2019. The theme ‘Deepening and Diversifying Partnerships’, is particularly appropriate, as the ACP seeks to reposition itself to respond to the demands of a rapidly changing global landscape.
Jamaica’s membership of the ACP Group is an important dimension of our foreign policy. It has at its foundation, the pursuit of partnerships with those who share similar values, goals and aspirations for peace and security, good governance, the rule of law and sustainable development.
It has been 44 years since the signing of the historic 1975 Constitutive Act – Georgetown Agreement – on which ACP Group of States was founded. While the fundamental principles of solidarity, cooperation and collective action have stood the test of time, the current and rapidly changing global environment demands that the Group redefines itself to provide effective leadership and engagement on the many issues that confront the regions of Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.
Indeed, membership of the ACP Group has ensured benefits under four successive Lomé Conventions and the current Cotonou Agreement, being implemented jointly in partnership with the European Union. These agreements have facilitated collaboration in areas such as political dialogue, intra-ACP cooperation, development cooperation and preferential market access for ACP commodities into the EU.
Undoubtedly, the ACP Group represents an effective use of the principle of multilateralism to influence economic and development policies, in the pursuit of prosperity for all our peoples. Most significantly, the ACP-EU partnership remains the world’s largest and most comprehensive multilateral relationship between a group of seventy-nine developing countries and the twenty-eight Member States of the European Union.
However, the growing retreat from multilateralism makes the need for and the importance of deepening and diversifying partnerships even more critical. The challenges and opportunities evolving in a dynamic global environment gives urgency and relevance to the ongoing revision of the Georgetown Agreement as well as the negotiation of a successor to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. We look forward to a renewed partnership agreement with the EU that is aligned with the current realities of the ACP developing countries and anchored in the implementation of Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals.
Jamaica is fully committed to working towards making the ACP a more effective global player. The guiding principles that have served the ACP Group of States in the past must drive our current and future efforts in making a difference in the lives of all our citizens. To that end, we will actively engage bilateral, regional and multilateral partners, within and beyond the ACP, to secure inclusive growth and sustainable development, for our people. We shall endeavour to ensure that we leave no one behind.