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Opening remarks by SG Tuiloma Neroni Slade at the PACP Leaders' meeting

PACIFIC ACP LEADERS’ MEETING
Port Vila, Vanuatu
3 August 2010


OPENING REMARKS
BY
MR TUILOMA NERONI SLADE,
Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat


Excellencies
Distinguished Leaders of Pacific ACP countries
Honourable Ministers
Heads and Representatives of CROP Agencies
Ladies and Gentlemen

 

 

Mr Chairman,

Thank you.


May I welcome you all, most warmly, to this year’s meeting of the Leaders of the Pacific ACP countries.

2. We meet on the happy and auspicious occasion of the 30th anniversary of Vanuatu’s independence, nationally and justly proudly celebrated last week.

3. On behalf of the Pacific leadership gathered here I want to thank and congratulate Hon Prime Minister Natapei, the Government and people of Vanuatu for hosting the Forum meetings this year, with our particular gratitude for the warm greetings and welcome extended to us all and for the excellent arrangements for the meetings this week.


4. This is the eighth meeting of the Pacific ACP Leaders, since the first meeting of its kind in 2002. As in previous gatherings this is an opportunity for Leaders of the Pacific ACP countries to discuss issues of common interest and concern.

5. The agenda for this year’s meeting and the background papers submitted will provide Leaders with updates on several developments that define the nature of the current relationship between the Pacific ACP countries and the European Union.

6. For an appreciable time now, the Pacific ACP region has benefitted from development assistance provided by the European Union through its European Development Fund. The Pacific ACP countries receive direct assistance through your country National Indicative Programmes, negotiated bilaterally with the EU. But as a region, we have the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme that is administered through the office of the Forum Secretary General as the Regional Authorising Officer.

7. Leaders would recall the time taken and the many technicalities and difficulties encountered in developing the regional strategy for the EDF-10 Pacific Regional Indicative Programme, and also the difficulties with the discussions and negotiations for a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU. Those discussions and negotiations are, of course, still ongoing.

8. But, on the whole, the Secretariat is pleased to report to Leaders that despite the difficulties and delays, progress in the implementation of the regional indicative programme has picked up momentum and the rate of commitment of funds is generally satisfactory.

9. As we will relate later in the meeting, the first three Financing Agreements were signed earlier this year committing a total of €21.9m. Details of developments since your last meeting are provided in the paper outlining the state of play in implementing the regional programmes under the EDF-10.

10. We aim to commit €32 million in 2010 with the remaining balance to be committed by 2012.

11. Trade discussions with the EU over the last several years have also defined this region’s relationship with the EU.

12. As observed earlier, negotiations are still ongoing for a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU. As of this time, only PNG and Fiji have initialed an Interim EPA. However, four more countries (Cook Islands, FSM, Niue and Samoa) have expressed interest in signing up.

13. As explained in the background paper provided, Fisheries have emerged as a contentious issue, but I hope that this can be resolved soon through discussions amongst the Pacific ACP Officials.

14. The implementation of the Pacific Islands Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) is progressing much better than the last time we reported on the matter. Now there are 7 Forum Island Countries (Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) which have announced their readiness to trade under PICTA. And I encourage the remaining 7 countries to make the necessary arrangements soon for trading under PICTA. Leaders will be updated on progress achieved to date on the other key aspects of PICTA, such as the trade in services provisions and the potential Temporary Movement of Natural Persons Scheme.

15. The proposal for the establishment of a Pacific Regional Office in Brussels has been further assessed and findings of that assessment indicate the need for a feasibility study towards further progress with this initiative, and further guidance is sought from Leaders on this matter. .

16. As with past meetings, Leaders will have the opportunity towards the end of your meeting to hear directly from the representative of the European Union. This year, the EU representative is Mr Christian Leffler, Deputy Director-General, Directorate General for Development and Relation with ACP States, based in Brussels. His presentation will be on the EC’s commitments to the region under the Cotonou Agreement.

17. Leaders will also hear from Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Secretary General of the ACP Group of States.

18. Again, a warm welcome to Hon Leaders, and with our best wishes and support for your deliberations.

Thank you


END.
 

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