Distinguished Senior Government Officials
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2015 Forum Trade Officials Meeting.
At the outset, let me extend our sincere appreciation to our colleagues in the Government of the Cook Islands for their warm welcome and the excellent arrangements made for the series of meetings this week.
This week will feature an intensive series of meetings under the overarching theme, “Supporting Private Sector Development in the Forum Island Countries” with parallel meetings of trade and economic Senior Officials and Ministers, and the private sector. There are also two public seminars including one specifically on enhancing the role of the private sector. These will all culminate in the Economic and Trade Ministers’ dialogue with the private sector.
We should take advantage of the opportunities presented this week and ensure that there are concrete implementable outcomes that result in improved economic growth in the region.
The agenda for the trade meetings is comprehensive. And as we go through each agenda item, we need to ask how the private sector can be supported.
The Secretariat has a comprehensive work programme that supports private sector growth in the Forum Island Countries. The flagship of this programme is the Pacific Islands Trade and Invest network of offices that have the most direct interaction with the private sector. The PT&I continues to promote trade and investment development throughout the region with presence in Sydney, Auckland, Tokyo, Beijing and Geneva that seek out and facilitate new investments and business partners for the region. Moreover, the PT&I network supports the Pacific island exporters reach new markets and expand their exports in the existing markets.
More broadly, you will recall that in 2014, our Leaders adopted the Framework for Pacific Regionalism (FPR) as the overarching strategy for regionalism in the Pacific. The FPR is a re-casting of the preceding Pacific Plan but with a reinvigorated focus on advancing regionalism to deliver “game changing results” through the necessary political level discussions and commitment. At their meeting in September this year, under the FPR, Leaders agreed to 5 priorities: Increased Economic Returns from Fisheries; Climate Change; Information & Communications Technology (ICT); West Papua; and Cervical Cancer. We will hear more about this in the relevant session this morning and the role that trade Senior Officials and Ministers can play in support of the Leaders’ decisions on regional priorities.
Senior trade officials, you have a lot to get through today. I encourage you to develop sound recommendations for Ministers, which seek to realise the aspirations of our Leaders and the people of our region. The Forum Secretariat stands ready to provide continued assistance in your discussion of the priority issues and I wish you all the very best for the meetings ahead of you.