President Buhari urges more African, Caribbean trade

Timothy Choji, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the African, Caribbean & Pacific Group of States, ACP, to focus its future around areas of comparative advantage like trade, investment and technology.

He made the call at the just concluded ACP summit of Heads of States and Government of the ACP in Papua New Guinea.

“The Federal government of Nigeria supports the issue of not allowing a situation where the ACP stretches itself a lot but focuses on its areas of comparative advantage particularly trade and investment, development cooperation including technology as well as political dialogue and advocacy,” he stressed.

President Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the summit, pledged that Nigeria would continue to play an active role in the group, as he urged member countries to focus more on improving the finances of the group.

“The Federal Republic of Nigeria remains committed to the ideals of the ACP and hereby express our willingness to continue active engagement within the group. In order to attain financial sustainability, there is need for mobilization of resources through trust funds and the establishment of an endowment fund and also ensuring that member States pay all that they have pledged to pay,” President Buhari advised.

Job Creation

In the area of technology, President Buhari said efforts should be focused on job creation and youth development.

“We believe that there should be a focus on science, technology, English and Mathematics and a focus on equipping our young people for entrepreneurship and jobs in the technology sector will be an important way of alleviating some of the issues around unemployment,” he said.

The Vice President said the meeting in Papua New Guinea was a crucial one, geared towards re-positioning the ACP towards 2020 and beyond, when the strategic relationship between the ACP and the European Union is expected to move to a new level.

The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States ACP is an organization formed in 1975 with the Cotonou Agreement, and composed of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states.

All of them, except Cuba, are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement, also known as the ‘ACP-EC Partnership Agreement’ which binds them to the European Union.

There are 48 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, 16 from the Caribbean and 15 from the Pacific, in the ACP.