PNG Opposition welcomes ACP delegation

The Opposition has welcomed the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States delegation into the country.

In a media conference this afternoon, Opposition leader Don Polye said: “Our people are very friendly as we are the Melanesian people and accept our visitors and friends with open arms.”

He said PNG is an interesting place to visit as there are many business opportunities and friendly people.

This is the second time PNG is hosting the ACP.

The first was in 2005 when PNG appointed one of its own sons, Sir John Kaputin, as the ACP general secretary. This was under the reign of Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare as the prime minister and Sir Rabbie Namaliu as the foreign minister.

He said the Opposition is happy that PNG is affiliated to this trade block in the ACP and supports the good cause and mission of the ACP.

Polye urged the ACP leaders to address the Free Trade Agreement between the member countries during their meetings and also the people to people interactions.

The Opposition believed that as member countries, free trade must be encouraged among and between ACP countries and also to liberalise trade and integrate the economies of these countries.

“We also believe that the ACP nations should have free trade agreement with European countries.”

Polye said most of the ACP countries’ economies are fragile and to have a free trade agreement with the European Union countries, whose economies are much stronger, will boost their markets. A good example of such an agreement would be the PNG tuna agreement with the European Union.

He said such trade agreements must be multiplied on a broader scale among the ACP member countries.

Polye added that as an alternative government, they will strengthen such trade agreements as trade will further enhance the ACP countries.

The Opposition also encouraged the leaders to address the people to people interactions among the ACP countries.

He said there are similar cultural backgrounds among the ACP member countries and the people to people interactions will be easily tied.

Meanwhile, the leaders from the 79 countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States have been arriving in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, for the 8th ACP Summit of Heads of State and Government.

The summit started today and will end on June 1.

The Summit will discuss the future of the ACP Group as a revitalised cohesive force advocating the interests of its member states in the international arena. 

Discussions will take into consideration recent key international developments, including Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, issues of migration, climate change and the fight against terrorism.

Under the theme ‘Repositioning the ACP Group to address the challenges of Sustainable Development’, leaders will focus on three main areas, including: Equitable and sustainable development for ACP peoples; Enhancing the role of the ACP Group in global governance for development; and Peace, security and political stability as a prerequisite for development.

The Summit will also receive and deliberate on the Final Report of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), chaired by former President of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on the future of the Group. Since its formation in 2013, the EPG has held consultations in all six ACP regions with various strata of society, and conducted in-depth research, culminating in a number of recommendations for reform, in order to reorient the ACP Group to deliver more effectively on the development ambitions of its member states.

The 8th Summit coincides with ongoing discussions on the future relationship between the ACP Group of States and the European Union.

The decades-long partnership is currently outlined in the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which is due to end in 2020.

Formal negotiations for a follow up framework are expected to commence in 2017/2018.

Freddy Mou