Introductory Remarks by Shiu Raj, Director Programmes & Initiatives at the Hub and Spokes Programme Pacific Regional Planning Workshop

Hub and Spokes Programme

Pacific Regional Planning Workshop

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

12 – 14 March 2018


Introductory Remarks by Shiu Raj, Director Programmes & Initiatives, PIFS


Madam High Commissioner,

Representative of the United Kingdom,

Distinguished SPOKES,

Colleagues: a very warm welcome to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Let me start by extending very warm greetings of the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary who are currently responding to other important duties, but they have conveyed their good wishes for this workshop.

May I extend a special welcome to colleagues who have traveled from the Commonwealth Secretariat and the ACP Secretariat through Tradecom to be here this week for the Pacific Regional Planning session and I also take this opportunity to thank – Commonwealth Secretariat, ACP Secretariat and the EU - for your sterling efforts in supporting this Hub and Spokes Programme.

I am pleased to see a good turnout from the Pacific ACP States that currently have a spoke placed with them under the Programme. The only country that has not been able to join us is Tonga and as you know, because of the aftermath of the cyclone that they have lots of pressing issues that they need to deal with. But I would like to say to you all: Welcome to your Secretariat: this is the secretariat of the Pacific Islands Forum, and we work for our members.

Let me acknowledge the attendance of our development partners – apart from the UK I think we were hoping to have and I think they will come in later and we have received confirmation from Australia and New Zealand so definitely I think later on during the discussion, we are hoping they will be part of that engagement but in particular let me say thank you very much to the European Union for the continued support for the second phase of the Programme which has ensured continued assistance to the Pacific ACP States in building significant trade-related capacity in the region. Teddy very eloquently highlighted what are some of the very major achievements but let me take this opportunity to do a bit of reflection in terms of how the Phase I of the Hub and Spoke Programme has helped.

Reflections from Phase I, and the planning session in 2016

Some of you in this room were part of the Phase 1 of the Programme, and have also participated in the planning session that was convened in 2016, which equipped us with a coordinated approach to the delivery of services under the Programme. The Hub & Spokes team at the regional and national level have endeavored to coordinate their engagement so that their efforts complement other related initiatives, and avoid duplication.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has integrated the Advisers under this Programme into the organization wide structure and the work plan to ensure maximum synergies with the regional level deliverables. It is a practice that has given us excellent results and has also assisted in the personal development of the spokes. While we have not been able to secure a spoke in all of the Pacific island countries, the regional dimension of the work has ensured that all the Pacific ACP states have benefited from the Hub & Spokes resources. As Teddy has mentioned, we now have a roving spoke with that very intent to support those countries that do not have a spoke present in their capital.

In concrete terms, the Pacific region has benefited from technical support and capacity building interventions delivered by Advisers deployed throughout the region. Hubs and Spokes have variously augmented trade analysis and negotiating capacity within national Ministries of Trade, Commerce and Industries. In some cases, the Advisers had been bestowed with very significant responsibilities at the national and regional levels. This is of course testimony to the caliber of Advisers that have been deployed under this Progamme. In recent years we have also strengthened peer reviews through south-south and triangular cooperation arrangements and the Hub and Spokes Programme has helped in this particular engagement.

Beyond these thematic interventions, the programme has contributed to the region’s efforts at implementing Leaders’ Decisions as well as public policy priorities established under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism. In this view, Advisers have delivered ad hoc support and technical backstopping on Oceans, Fisheries, Business Harmonisation, and also engagement with the Private Sector.  As you are aware, the leaders in their meeting in 2017 have agreed to the Blue Pacific narrative which once again requires a whole-of-region approach to the various work that we engage in including in trade and investment. This is another area where the Hub and Spokes Programme has already commenced contributing towards.

While the technical contribution of the programme is beyond question, the Hubs and Spokes represents a unique expression of triangular cooperation, with Advisers recruited from across the ACP, delivering technical support within an intra-ACP Framework. Given that the Cotonou Agreement recognised the value of strengthening inter and intra regional cooperation, the Hubs and Spokes programme reflects a success story that should not be discounted, but built upon. In this room, we have got a good mix of African and Caribbean representatives representing Spokes and some years ago, we also had a Pacific spoke placed in the Marshall Islands so from that perspective it has really helped us enrich that exchange of information and building capacity. So what are we going to do beyond as Teddy has already mentioned: we are in consolidation phase.

Consolidation Phase and Beyond

The Regional Planning Meeting this week comes at a critical phase of the project life cycle – a few months before the end of the Consolidation Phase of the Programme. Given the high priority that beneficiaries attach to the Hubs and Spokes programme, this meeting offers an opportunity for reflection on the successes and challenges registered during the delivery of the Programme and consider workable approaches that can build on the foundation laid by this unique multi-donor, multi-region technical cooperation framework.

In view of the value placed on the Programme, the critical question that should detain us this week is ‘how can the Hubs and Spokes programme continue to deliver to the region’, and “in what shape can it be reincarnated for even better deliverables”.

Allow me to share with you few reflections:

  • Firstly, while the acquis of the programme must be preserved – this includes the unique triangular arrangement of developing partners supporting intra-ACP cooperation, we need to build better ownership through joint engagements, and this is something that’s already been referred to by the previous speakers. What do we mean by this? I think it’s important for us to look into financial contributions that is part of the joint engagement and also support in-kind. Patrick referred to the approach that has been taken through the European Union with respect to getting the intra-ACP arrangement under the 11th EDF to focus more on private sector development and the regional programmes under the 11th EDF to focus more on trade-related technical assistance.  Now as he has mentioned, that the component of regional development integration which in the initial design of the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme, was expected to focus or is expected to focus on trade and investments, and in the recent decisions of the leaders, there has been suggestion for tourism to be also part of that mix, that particular allocation is still not programmed but what’s very important for you to note and I am sure those who have been part of this discussion are aware, that a Hub and Spokes-like arrangement is not part of the current concept note so this of course is an important issue for us if indeed we are looking at the regional indicative programme supporting a similar type of programme – this workshop is the opportunity for us to have that discussion but also take it through that regional process and once again I think this is an issue that we had discussed with the Spokes some time ago at the whole-of-ACP planning workshop about how do we make sure that all the PACPS see the value in this programme. So from the Secretariat’s perspective we have invested lots of time and energy to make sure that is the case but nonetheless if indeed we are going to go through a regional and economic integration initiative under the regional indicative programme that would look into a Hub and Spokes-type of arrangement, we need to convince other PACPS who do not have a spoke.
  • Secondly, while the structure of the programme with a dedicated Project Management Team has been effective in providing administrative support and direction to the programme, sufficient flexibility for adjustments to respond to emerging regional and national needs, need to be retained as an important feature. I do not take note of what Patrick said that often the rigidity comes with the log frame but I think we can confidently say that Hub and Spokes in its delivery has been relatively flexible to respond to the needs as the priorities got adjusted. The region has approved the Framework for Pacific Regionalism which is a new way or a new process through which we identify priorities of regionalism and some of those initiatives have been supported under the Phase II of the Hub and Spokes Programme. From that perspective I think that has been an important engagement for us.
  • The third important point that I would like to make is that while efforts have been made at the national level to build trade related capacity, gaps still remain, which requires additional support to be directed at bridging these gaps. Importantly, in many of the PACPS, they are in a phase where real trade benefits are to be reaped in the immediate future through the implementation of various frameworks and agreements they are parties to. So this is a very important dimension of our engagement and much of the current efforts of the Hub and Spokes Programme is already directed towards the implementation dimension of the trade agreements that we currently have in the region; and finally
  • The Hubs and Spokes programme has allowed for the delivery of fair and impartial analysis and – interestingly it has been picked up by the European Union as well - of course advice, particularly in the context of trade negotiations. This detached and unbiased analysis remains critical to achieving beneficial outcomes to the continued trade analysis and further negotiations as the Agreements are implemented in the region. Independent advice on critical matters will continue to be a need for the PACPS, at the domestic level and at the regional level.

So I hope that these few points are going to help you in your discussions but Excellencies and colleagues, these reflections are not aimed at preempting your discussion over the next few days, but I urge you to keep these ideas in mind. I sincerely hope that the outcomes of this meeting will provide meaningful guidance on the future and sustainability of important initiatives such as the Hub & Spokes programme.

We have no doubt acknowledged the important role the Hub and Spokes Programme has played for more than a decade, the results that is has produced and in some cases, some of the spokes have built families in the Pacific so this is really talking about real integration between the ACP and I am saying that in a good sense so these are the realities. We are talking about families: we are talking about families, it’s not only about families in the proper sense but families through professional networks as well. Hillary is here, as you know he is heading the Biosecurity section of this country so that is the extent to which the skill-set have been recognised and the contributions very significant.

Once again, thank you very much, thanks for your attendance, I really wish you success in the workshop and Teddy has asked me that this is the time that I should declare this workshop open.

12 March 2018

Suva, Fiji

zoom out zoom in print this page