Regional Meet on Forum Leaders Priority for an Integrated Region

Apia, Samoa (July 9, 2018) – Senior Trade Officials from the region will meet in Samoa this week to discuss approaches for expanding beneficial economic activities and coordinating policies to collectively achieve the common economic and political goals needed to strengthen regional trade integration.
“The Blue Pacific narrative endorsed by Forum Leaders in 2017 provides a transformative frame to guide these discussions,” said Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor.
When you start thinking about our region as a large, integrated and valuable Blue Continent, comprising a market of up to eight million or more Pacific consumers and businesses, it opens up a lot of potential. This meeting provides an opportunity for a renewed and reinvigorated approach for regional integration that is owned and beneficial for the people in the region.”
At the request of Leaders, the Secretariat has facilitated the establishment of a Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement Rules of Origin Committee (PICTA ROC) that will meet today to review and propose modifications to the criteria set out in the agreement through which a product can be conferred an ‘originating product’ status and qualify for access into PICTA markets under the Agreement. The committee currently comprises Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
A conversation amongst PICTA Parties will be facilitated thereafter on the afternoon of 10 July for views and a way forward on the decision of the PICTA ROC as well as approaches for further deepening regionalism through the inclusion in PICTA of services (PICTA Trade in Services Protocol) and labor mobility (PICTA Temporary Movement of Natural Persons Protocol). The PICTA Parties currently trading under the agreement are Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Kiribati.
Senior Trade Officials from sixteen Pacific ACP (PACP) member countries will also convene during the PACP Trade Officials Meeting on 10 July 2018 to look at approaches for further strengthening trade and economic relations with the European Union. This will include a discussion regarding Pacific perspectives and priorities for the ACP region’s post-Cotonou negotiating mandate on trade, investment, industrialization and services, including a way forward on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
The Forum Trade Officials Meeting follows on 11 July 2018 and includes for the first time French Polynesia and New Caledonia as new Forum Members. With representatives from the eighteen Forum members anticipated to be in attendance, the full membership will converse on collective actions for deepening intra-Forum trade and economic integration in alignment with the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and the Blue Pacific narrative as well as possible mechanisms and indicators to monitor implementation progress.  The Meeting will also discuss a way forward on a new Regional Aid for Trade Strategy since its expiration in 2017 and consider progress of the Review of the Pacific Trade & Invest Network (PT&I) Governance Framework.
The regional meetings take place at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Apia Samoa, and concludes with a PACER Plus Meeting for Signatories on 12 – 13 July 2018.

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