SG Tuiloma Neroni Slade's opening remarks PACP Leaders' meeting


Auckland, New Zealand, 6 September 2011
1:45 – 5:30 PM

Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

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

Mr Chairman,

Thank you.

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

2. We meet here in New Zealand on the eve of the Rugby World Cup, an event which has been hotly anticipated in our region. Of the many things which unite our countries, rugby holds a particular place in the order of things, and many might think it the highlight of the Forum Leaders’ Meeting. We, of course, know better. We extend our thanks in absentia to the Government of New Zealand for facilitating our arrangements today, and for providing us with excellent arrangements for our meeting.

3. I also take this opportunity to thank the Government of Vanuatu for their able assistance as both Forum and Pacific ACP Chair for the past year.

4. This is the ninth meeting of the Pacific ACP Leaders, since the decision was made in 2002 that Leaders should meet annually as part of the Forum program. 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 accompanying papers, will provide Honourable Leaders with updates on developments that define the nature of the current relationship between the Pacific ACP States and the European Union, and indeed define the relationship between Pacific ACP States themselves.

6. The agenda before you today is substantial, and canvasses a range of important issues including support for climate change, progress in regional trade negotiations, and the management of Pacific ACP matters. Your task today is to provide clear guidance to your Officials as they undertake negotiations and representation, and work to fulfill the mandates you have set. The Summary Decisions from this meeting will be transmitted to the Forum Chair, and will inform your discussions as Forum Leaders in the coming days.

7. The year has seen much progress on Pacific ACP – European Union matters. 2011 commenced with a meeting of Pacific APC Trade Ministers in Samoa, who directed their Officials to take Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations with the European Union to their conclusion. Your Secretariat has worked closely with Officials to complete the necessary preparations for the next meeting with the European Commission, including the development of a revised draft legal text and the submission of eight Market Access Offers in July. Ministers met again in August and agreed to a revised Roadmap that sets out the work that will take us to the end of negotiations. This Roadmap, and other recommendations of Trade Ministers, are before you today for your consideration.

8. The region has also made considerable progress in the management of the European Development Fund under the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme. The 8th Regional Indicative Programme is now effectively complete, with final reviews underway. The 9th Regional Indicative Programme has four remaining projects ongoing, with a further nine closed or in the process of closing. We anticipate that the 9th Regional Indicative Programme will be closed by the end of 2012.

9. The 10th Regional Indicative Programme is well underway and is funding a range of projects in areas such as fisheries resource management, trade negotiation and cooperation, customs administration reform and strengthening, national budget administration and support for non-state actors. Of the €95 million provided under the 10th Regional Indicative Programme, almost €54 million has been secured under existing or commencing projects, and your Regional Authorising Officer aims to commit a further €26 million by the end of 2011. Considering proposals currently in work or undergoing review, we are confident that funds will be fully committed by the end of 2013.

10. In other regional matters, I note the good progress made recently to take the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement Trade in Services negotiations through to a conclusion. Your Officials have some recommendations from their August meeting for your consideration that will see these negotiations concluded in 2012. I note, however, that despite your strong encouragement, only 7 Forum Island Countries have announced readiness to trade under PICTA, which is unchanged since you last met. This agreement is critical to the development of a single market among our countries, and I commend this initiative to those countries yet to complete their preparations. As always, the Secretariat stands ready to assist you.

11. In addition to these important matters, there are a range of ACP issues that require your consideration. You will receive an update from the Secretary General of the ACP Group of States, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, and will have an opportunity to consider issues relating to the future of the ACP Group. You will also consider issues relating to the management of Pacific ACP matters, including the participation of Fiji in Meetings of Officials and Leaders, and the establishment of a Regional Pacific Office in Brussels. These matters require your clear guidance and direction.

12. As with past meetings, Leaders will have the opportunity to hear directly from a representative of the European Union. This year, the representative is Ms Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action of the European Commission. In preparation for her discussion, you will consider an update on the issue of climate change financing in the region, an agenda which is being take forward through Forum Economic Ministers and Leaders. There are a number of key issues for your consideration, such as the difficulty Smaller Island States have in securing support from the various EU facilities due to complex administrative requirements, the need for increased budget support, and the need to ensure the region receives its “fare share” of funding, particularly to support adaptation to climate change. You may wish to raise these with Ms Hedegaard after her presentation.

13. Honourable Leaders, the agenda before you today is rich and contains a number of critical issues for your consideration. Your Secretariat stands ready to provide advice and clarification on any matter you may wish to raise.

15. Again, a warm welcome to Honourable Leaders, and I wish you well in your deliberations.

Thank you


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