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African, Caribbean and Pacific Group Announces Next Secretary General Will be From Caribbean

PARAMARIBO, Suriname — The next secretary general of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of countries for the period 2015-20 will come from the Caribbean region, the Suriname ministry of foreign affairs has announced.

After some debate during the recently concluded ACP Council of Ministers’ meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, consensus was reached, and eventually the council decided that the next secretary general will come from the Caribbean, said Suriname’s minister of foreign affairs, Winston Lackin.

Meanwhile, the ACP Secretariat in Brussels confirmed that the selection of the next secretary general will be finalized by the Council of Ministers in Suriname in November, before the eighth ACP summit to be held during the same period in Paramaribo.

The secretary general holds executive powers and heads the Brussels-based ACP Secretariat, which is the administrative and technical body of the ACP Group. The Secretariat provides policy guidance and technical expertise, and monitors the ACP-European Union partnership agreement. The upcoming term is especially significant as it will see the last leg of ACP-EU cooperation under the current Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which ends in 2020.

According to the ministry of foreign affairs, during the ministers’ meeting several challenging issues regarding cotton, bananas and sugar were discussed. Participants stipulated that there are great discrepancies between what the ACP wants and what the European Union is doing and offering. It has been noted the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy, which came into effect in 2013, results in a disadvantage for cane sugar produced in ACP countries against beet sugar produced in Europe.

“These developments are a great challenge for the sugar industry in the ACP regions and could eventually lead to the demise of the sugar industry in ACP countries,” the ministry said.

ACP member states such as Jamaica, Belize, Mauritius and Cote d’Ivoire voiced their concern, and Jamaica requested special attention be paid to the anti-sugar lobby by the World Health Organization, which claims that sugar consumption is unhealthy. The Jamaican delegation urged the ACP to challenge this lobby since every product that is being consumed too much could result in health problems, not just sugar.

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