OPENING STATEMENT BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL
Dame Meg Taylor
Pacific ACP Leaders Meeting
3 September 2018
At the outset, may I acknowledge His Excellency, President Baron Waqa and the people of Nauru for hosting us to this 49th Pacific Islands Forum and this Pacific ACP Leaders Meeting here in Aiwo, Nauru.
I also thank Reverend Roger Mwareow and the youth choir for opening our deliberations with a moving devotion this afternoon.
Excellencies, the imminent launch of the post-Cotonou negotiations provides an opportunity for the region to reflect on the current Cotonou Agreement and see how best we can improve and strengthen our relations with the European Union and within the ACP group. It presents the opportunity to emphasise our Blue Pacific identity – highlighting our collective strengths, opportunities and challenges as a region, and see how the priorities identified under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism can be supported and progresses to achieve the Leaders vision for our place, our people and our prosperity, security and well being.
Work still remains to be undertaken, both nationally and regionally, to ensure our collective priorities conveyed in these negotiations are aligned to our regional priorities.
In turning to the regional programmes in the region, Excellencies, you will recall from your discussions in 2017 the concerns raised on the delays in the programming of 11th cycle of the European Development Fund, commonly referred to as EDF 11. I am pleased to confirm that progress, though slow, has been positive.
In addition, regional efforts to access intra-ACP funding has improved significantly in the past year. The successful efforts of the CROP agencies in securing intra-ACP funds, supplemented by additional financing from development partners, to facilitate various climate change initiatives in the region is testament to the strengthening collaborative efforts between the Pacific region and the ACP.
Excellencies, you will recall that in addition to development cooperation, trade has traditionally formed a key component of the Pacific’s relations with the European Union under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and its predecessor agreements. Therefore, it is apt that this meeting also consider progress on trade-related initiatives in the Pacific, including the status of the Pacific – European Union Economic Partnership Agreement and the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement.
Your discussions today will also consider the unilateral position taken by the European Union to black list several Pacific States as non-cooperative jurisdictions on tax matters. Your consideration on this issue is important and, I would offer, should be raised collectively with the European Union.
Before I conclude, may I take this opportunity to acknowledge the outgoing Chair of the PACP Leaders, the Honourable Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa. During his tenure as Chair, the Forum has made significant progress on the programming of the 11th EDF Regional Indicative Programme and preparations towards the post-Cotonou negotiations – for this I am very thankful.
Excellencies, I wish you well on your deliberations this afternoon.
I thank you.