Georgetown, Guyana – (June 7, 2017) History was created today, when President David Granger became the first Guyanese Head of State in 42 years to meet the Committee of Ambassadors of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States whom he urged to seek a new covenant with the European Union (EU) so as to support economic transformation through investment in industries, infrastructure and information communications technology. More than seventy Ambassadors turned up to hear the President’s vision for a new agreement between the ACP and the EU.
The President hammered home the importance of structural transformation of the economies of the ACP. Investment in economic industries, according to the Guyanese Head of State, is the key to unlocking the economic potential of countries and moving production higher up the value chain. “Investment in infrastructure will support the structural transformation of our economies and reduce inequality. Investment in information communications technology [ICT] will reduce the digital divide and foster improved integration into the markets of the North,” President Granger said.
He noted that the Georgetown Agreement which established the ACP in 1975 was meant to be transformative and as such, urged the body to have a clear objective when it enters into negotiations with the EU on a successor partnership to the Cotonou Agreement which has guided ACP-EU relations since 2000 and which is due to expire in 2020. The ACP and the EU are expected to begin negotiations soon on a new agreement.
Speaking on the issue of unemployment, the President called on the ACP and EU to assign high priority towards reducing unemployment through job-creation and job-promotion initiatives, including support for small and medium-scale enterprises which have demonstrated a capacity to create employment. “Job-creation remains the best means of extricating persons out of the clutches of poverty. Jobs are necessary to curb emigration and retain skilled persons,” he said.
With regard to climate change, he made an impassioned plea for the post-Cotonou agreement to include measures which promote climate adaptation, guarantee food security and support sustainable livelihoods. All of this he said, must be supported by development finance accessible by all ACP countries, including those which are deemed middle-income countries. “ACP states need to be environmentally secure if they are to guarantee their peoples human security and sustainable livelihoods,” President Granger said.
At the end of his address, President Granger greeted each of the Ambassadors and signed the Visitor’s Book at the ACP headquarters in Brussels.