Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has concluded a successful meeting in Brussels with her counterpart at the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, Patrick Gomes.
The leaders agreed to accelerate joint action on matters of mutual interest to boost trade and economic cooperation.
During the meeting, Dr Gomes said collaboration with the Commonwealth is “highly successful” and has strengthened the trade aspirations of the ACP Group, which consists of 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Calling for greater cooperation between the Commonwealth and the ACP Secretariat, Dr Gomes said, “The Commonwealth can play a significant role in assisting the ACP Group in research, analysis and data collection, and development of toolkits to address technical barriers to trade.”
He recommended that both organisations deliver public awareness workshops to inform their respective memberships on the urgency of increasing innovation and competitiveness to drive trade and further sustainable development.
Secretary-General Scotland presented the outcomes from April’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which included the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment. The two leaders explored ways to integrate the ACP Group into the Connectivity Agenda.
In addition, she announced an extension of the Hub and Spokes programme, which is a joint aid-for-trade initiative of the European Union, ACP Secretariat, Commonwealth and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. With funding from the Commonwealth, it will now run to February 2019 while work continues to establish a successor programme.
On the prospect of a successor programme, the Secretary-General said, “Our Hub and Spokes programme has supported trade development in all ACP countries and regions and is widely acknowledged to have been successful and of real value. The programme is responding so powerfully to an identified need. This model has been really successful and is also used for climate change through the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub.”
Wrapping up, both leaders agreed to set out the framework for cooperation between the two organisations.