26 April 2018
Heads of Delegation of Forum Member Countries And Senior Officials
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum
Representatives of CROP Agencies
Representatives of Development Partners
Ladies and Gentlemen
Alii, and Ungil Tutau (Good morning),
Thank you for your confidence and endorsement for me to guide the proceedings of the 2018 Forum Economic Ministers Meeting as the Chair.
Allow me to begin by stating that we are meeting during a critical time in the modern history of the global economic system. The world is facing strong headwinds, which is challenging the global norms and framework which have guided the economic system for many decades. This will have some implications on our domestic economies, and the significant challenge for Honourable Ministers and policy-makers face ison how to effectively navigate the potential flow-on impacts on the global economy through the various linkages such as trade, tourism, and financial flows such as foreign direct investment and official development assistance.
Furthermore, our countries are also being increasingly affected by the impact of climate change and natural disasters. The frequency and intensity of climate-induced natural disaster is being heightened in the region in the last few years. We have to also manage those hazards with the limited resources we have, as well as with the generous assistance of our multilateral and development partners.
This meeting also provides a significant opportunity and platform for our countries to have frank discussions and explore options and mechanisms to collectively address these challenges.
Without going into the details, I can confidently mention at the outset that the meeting will consider some important concrete proposals, and policy mechanisms to address some of the pressing issues, including on to achieve sustained economic growth, as well as to build and strengthen the resilience of our communities and our economies. I encourage Honourable Ministers and delegates to have frank and solid discussions during the meeting which would lead to charting clear pathway and direction for the region to navigate the imminent challenges facing our economies our communities and our people.
The theme of this meeting “Building Economic Resilience of Pacific island countries through Sustainable Financing Flows” summaries one of the key issues that almost all Forum Island Countries face – i.e. limited access to sustained flow of finance to sustain our economic growth, deliver key public services, and building our critical national economic infrastructure, as well as, to build and strengthen the resilience of our communities and our economies natural and man-made disasters. Almost all Forum Island Countries incur budget deficits annually, which clearly signifies the fact that our development needs outweigh the resources available to our countries. We have to look for innovation approaches and solutions to mobilise finance for development.
In this juncture, I would like to call upon our multilateral and development partners to take into consideration the unique characteristics of the Forum Island Countries, including the vulnerability and fragility of our small island economies in particular to the mounting impacts of climate change and natural disasters. The criteria used, including for country classification and the associated access to official development assistance through multilateral and global sources, should be re-examined particularly for Pacific island countries, like the Republic of Palau.
And the responsibility should be shared by Honourable Ministers and Leaders of the Forum Countries to advocate for these issues at various global fora. As the Chair of FEMM for the next year, I will endeavour to do my part in advocating for this and other relevant FEMM issues.
I am glad to note the progress this meeting has made to-date to make the FEMM more effective and decision-oriented, following the recommendations of the 2014 Review of the Pacific Plan. Honourable Ministers will take some decisions in this meeting to further ensure FEMM is more effective. We can and must make this meeting more effective, as this is the peak meeting of the Economic and Finance Ministers of the Pacific Islands Forum. There are many important policy issues and country experiences shared at this gathering that each country can learn from and adopt accordingly.
So going forward, I propose that from next FEMM, each country could provide a brief update on how each country had implemented relevant policies/decisions, of course, tailored to the needs of each country. This would allow Members take more ownership of some of the key decisions made at FEMM.
Once again, thank you for your support for me guide your proceedings for this FEMM. I look forward to a fruitful 2018 FEMM.
Kom Kmal Mesulang and Thank you.