Remarks by Hon. Alik L. Alik, Vice President of FSM at opening of FTMM




1. Honorable Vice-President of Kiribati
2. Honorable Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa
3. Honorable Ministers and Heads of Delegations
4. Honorable John Ehsa, Governor of the State of Pohnpei
5. Honorable Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat
6. Members of the Diplomatic Corp
7. Representatives from Regional Organizations
8. Distinguished Delegates
9. Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning to you all.

At the outset, allow me to recognize and pay respect to the traditional leadership of our host State of Pohnpei.

It is a great pleasure for me to join Governor Ehsa in extending a warm welcome and kaselehlia to all attending this opening of this Forum Trade Ministers Meeting. I would like to convey special greetings and welcome to our honored and distinguished guests, especially the Vice-President, the Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers and Heads of Delegations from Forum member countries, who have traveled from afar to attend this auspicious gathering.

I very much hope that your short stay in Pohnpei is enjoyable and successful and that you take some time to visit some of our historical sites, such as the Nan Madol Ruins and to see some of the natural beauty that Pohnpei has to offer. We are indeed pleased to be your host, and we hope that your journey to our Northern Pacific Micronesia is most pleasant.

As your host, FSM is very much honored and grateful for this historic opportunity to host this important meeting and its high-level delegations from member countries. In this connection, it is my distinct pleasure to warmly welcome you and to give a few opening remarks on this occasion.

Excellencies and Honorable Ministers:

This Forum Trade Ministers Meeting is of particular significance for us since this would be the first time that a meeting of Trade Ministers is convened in the FSM. Given the distance traveled to arrive in Pohnpei, your presence serves to demonstrate the importance that you attach to regional economic integration, trade and other issues that affect us all. I thank you for making the time to attend this important meeting.

As small Pacific Island Nations, we are constantly faced with global challenges such as the impacts of climate change, food security, high energy cost and high level of unemployment, to name a few. These challenges are often beyond our control but nevertheless the responsibility is ours as leaders and policy-makers to come up with real solutions that will address these challenges.

You all may agree with me that deep integration of our economies through the development of sub-regional and regional arrangements of common interests and the improvement of trade and trade-related infrastructure will undoubtedly aid in the creation of new market opportunities, and will enhance trade among the Forum Island Countries to generate economic growth and income for our people. In this regard, our discussions and deliberations on regional integration, especially on trade and trade-related issues, should be fully inclusive of all the components of our Pacific Region.
It is my understanding that decisions adopted in these areas will shape and ultimately affect the way forward on how you deal with the issues that greatly affects us all.

If I may say, for Specific to the Federated States of Micronesia, I wish to take this opportunity to affirm that we attach sincere importance to trade arrangements which would bear much economic potentials for the country, and to our Pacific region as a whole. As small islands states, trade engagements are important, but must be addressed with due diligence with consideration of social and economic fragilities.

Excellencies and Honorable Ministers:

During the next two days, we will engage discussions of critical importance for our region including: the funding arrangements for the Forum World Trade Organization (WTO) Office in Geneva; the strategy for the Pacific Island Trade and Investment Commissioners (PITICs); developments relating to Traditional knowledge and Intellectual Property-related issues; and Aid-for-Trade (AfT), and the Pacific Agreement for Closer Economic Relations (PACER-Plus) between Forum Island Countries and Australia and New Zealand. These are indeed issues of great importance to us all and that must be addressed with due diligence and with open mind.

On PACER-Plus, you would recall that when our Leaders agreed to the commencement of the negotiations in August last year, they also stressed the need for Forum Island Countries to undertake national consultations with all stakeholders and capacity building for the negotiations, and the importance of an independent Office of Chief Trade Adviser to provide independent and technical advice to Forum Island Countries.

Our Government is very pleased that the Office of Chief Trade Adviser is now established and operational in Vanuatu and will provide the Forum Island Countries with all the support and advice needed. My own sense is that the PACER-plus could become an important tool for achieving economic growth and sustainable development in our region, as we all are committed to give sense to the “Plus” reflected in the PACER.

The FSM is currently embarked in a process of wide state and national consultations, which will begin next month and will be conducted throughout our four States. Our Government is also pleased that the Chief Trade Adviser has commenced its work and hope that his Office will very soon become fully operational and effective, so as to provide the Forum Island Countries with all the expertise that will be needed when formal negotiations kicks off.

In this regard, the FSM Government would like to express appreciation for the multilevel support from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand and call on other development partners for further assistance in this process.

Honorable Ministers:

I understand that a lot of work and great deal of detailed discussions has already been undertaken by our trade officials. It is now our responsibility to demonstrate that our national interests are not mutually exclusive and to identify realistic options and approaches that will ensure mutual gains and benefits for all our countries and people.

In closing my remarks, I would like to wish you all, Honorable Ministers and your respective delegations an enjoyable time during your stay in Pohnpei. I wish you a successful meeting over the next two days.

It is an honor and great pleasure to declare the 2010 Forum Trade Ministers Meeting open.

Thank you.

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