25 June 2004
Secretary-General Promises Continued UN Partnership to Meet Anti-Poverty Goals in Message to Meeting of African, Caribbean, Pacific States
NEW YORK, 24 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annans message to the Fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African, Caribbean, Pacific Group, delivered by K.Y. Amoako, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa, in Maputo, 23 June:
Since its inception almost 30 years ago, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States has been working in unison towards its various developmental objectives. The Group has provided an effective forum for your respective countries to work collectively to improve the lives of the people of their countries, through cooperation within your individual regions and through negotiations for improved access to the markets of the European Union. The ACP is at once is an important example of South-South cooperation and South-South solidarity.
At the seventy-ninth session of your Council of Ministers, held in Gaberone, Botswana, early last month, a number of important decisions were adopted relating to the Cotonou Agreement, in particular the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). This summit provides a further opportunity to reflect on the decisions of your ministers, but also discuss on many issues of mutual interest.
As constituents of the ACP, you are at different stages in the negotiations of the EPAs with the European Union. But all of you face the same timeline for completion of the negotiations and entry into force of the EPAs: 1 January 2008. The EPAs will not only progressively remove the non-reciprocal trade preferences that have been extended to your countries through a succession of Lomé Accords, but also stimulate a range of policy and institutional changes. A major concern, for example, is the impact that the trade liberalization to be wrought by EPAs would have on fiscal revenue. Many of your countries are heavily dependent on income from tariffs for government revenue. The prospect of falling government revenue, combined with falling commodity prices and huge external indebtedness, imposes a heavy burden on your countries and threatens to further hinder your ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
That is why we look to the international community to help you diversify your exports, and enable you to move away from excessive dependence on exports of primary commodities. The international community must work together to ensure that you can benefit from the opportunities generated by the multilateral trading system. To that end, the United Nations will continue to work in partnership with your governments, the private sector, civil society and the donor community to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. In that spirit of partnership, I wish you a most successful summit.
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