DSG Fong Toy's Introductory Remarks at Forum Trade Ministers Meeting


Tanoa Tusitala Hotel

Apia, Samoa

19 July 2013







His Excellency the President of Nauru, Baron Divavesi Waqa

Honorable Ministers

Representatives of regional organisations


Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, it is my pleasure to welcome you to this Forum Trade Ministers Meeting.  I wish to thank the Government of Samoa for hosting this meeting and the courtesy and hospitality extended to all of us since our arrival in Apia.  We also appreciate the impressive Samoan welcoming ceremony which was accorded to us.  It is always very encouraging to have a willing and committed host that provides good facilities and an environment conducive to fruitful discussions. This makes the work of the Secretariat much easier in supporting the Members’ meetings.

2. I wish to also acknowledge the Honourable Prime Minister of Samoa for gracing us with his presence and opening this meeting.

3. The Forum Trade Ministers Meeting provides an important opportunity for Trade Ministers to discuss collectively and make firm commitments towards   advancing the priority trade matters affecting the region.

4. The Pacific region faces many constraints to increasing and developing sustainable trade.  Most Forum Member economies are not only small but also isolated, therefore we need practical and innovative policies and strategies to take advantage of the economic opportunities that can overcome these challenges.  By increasing trade we can contribute to the reduction of poverty.

5. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s trade-related work programme takes its direction from the Forum Leaders’ vision as outlined in the Pacific Plan goals to enhance and stimulate economic growth and sustainable development for Pacific countries through regional cooperation and integration.  It seeks to achieve this by assisting Members implement the decisions of Forum Leaders and Trade Ministers relating to regional trade and economic growth.

6. The Pacific Plan is currently being reviewed.   This Review is the second that has been undertaken since the Pacific Plan was first endorsed by Leaders in 2005 – but it is in many ways more comprehensive.

7. The Pacific Plan Review team in presenting their interim findings, have proposed systemic and substantial changes to regional priority setting processes and the institutions that support them. The Review Team is of the view that the Pacific Plan should: not be seen as a ‘regional development plan’; not be about donor funding, or a prerequisite to funding. Rather, it is a framework for advancing the process of regional integration, and regionalism, through informed political choice and strategic change.

8. The Prime Minister has broadly outlined the agenda for our meeting today which includes areas that contribute to regionalism and regional integration, in particular.

9. The Forum Secretariat’s work on trade covers a range of activities to improve opportunities for trade within the region and with other regions including trade agreements, and to increase investment opportunities and private sector development. 

10. In support of this, the current Draft Pacific Aid for trade Strategy, 2013 till 2017, is focused on the needs of the Forum Island countries, and includes a substantive policy context outlining the challenges as well as the potential for trade. 

11. In addition,  the development of National Trade Policy Frameworks aim to  mainstream  trade into National Development Plans/ Strategies and are an important part of the Secretariat’s Trade Policy work programme, which aims to have at least six Trade Policy Frameworks in place by the end of 2014.

12. Mr President and Honourable Ministers as I conclude my remarks, at this stage in the region’s trade development agenda, time is pressing and progress in the key issues identified is of utmost importance. I wish you fruitful deliberations in today’s important meeting towards the Leaders’ vision of a prosperous Pacific, with dynamic, vibrant economies.

Fa’afetai lava and thank you.



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