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SG's speech - signing ceremony of FACT and DRIP projects.
STATEMENT BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL & REGIONAL AUTHORISING OFFICER, PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT

SIGNING CEREMONY

Forum Secretariat, Suva
14 December 2007

Your Excellencies,
Heads of Regional Organisations
Members of the Press
Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, I would like to warmly welcome you all to the Secretariat this afternoon. I would like to extend a special welcome to the new Head of Delegation of the European Commission in Suva, Mr Wiepke van der Goot, who is no stranger to the Pacific region, having spent some time at the EC Delegation in Vanuatu.

2. Today, we mark yet another important occasion in our long and successful partnership with the European Union with the signing of the Contribution Agreements for two regional projects. The Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade project (FACT), will be implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, with a budget of €4 million. This project will seek to promote trade in agricultural and forestry products by focusing on improving the whole supply chain to improve the competitiveness of the product. There will be a more focused interaction with the private sector which is the best approach in implementing such projects.

3. We will also sign the Contribution Agreement for the Disaster Risk Reduction project with a budget of €9.26 million to be implemented by the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission. This is also an important and timely intervention. We must be prepared and take appropriate measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change and other environmental challenges. The project will focus on improving access to safe drinking water and strengthen natural disaster centers. This project is funded from the collective balances of allocations to each of the countries in the event of natural disasters. The National Authorising Officers have delegated the RAO to administer this project on their behalf. We are grateful to the European Union for ensuring that the unspent balances are returned to the region

4. On behalf of the Pacific ACP countries I would like to again thank the European Commission for their continued support to the region. The region is going through a period of transition which we hope will lead us to a more strengthened partnership with the EU, in the spirit of the Cotonou Agreement.

Thank you.