Official Opening Remarks of the Pacific Islands Forum Deputy Secretary General Dr Filimon Manoni to Senior Trade Officials virtual Briefing, Friday 20th November.
Senior Trade Officials
On behalf of the Secretary General, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the first virtual Senior Forum Trade Officials briefing on the Trade Work Programme currently being undertaken by the Secretariat, following the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting (FTMM) held in February this year.
At the outset, I would like to acknowledge your unwavering support not only in progressing key outcomes from the FTMM, but importantly in enabling us to convene a very successful FTMM in February this year after a five-year hiatus.
Senior Officials and Excellencies, this briefing comes at a time when the world economy is still grappling with the impacts of COVID-19 that has impeded and curtailed the economic development of our Member States.
Consequently, trade flows have been affected, except for the supply of essential goods such as food products, medical and pharmaceutical items, due to indefinite border closures and the high sanitary and phytosanitary standards currently being applied with a view towards protecting public health.
Senior Officials and Excellencies, we therefore need to view today’s discussions with a prioritisation, economic recovery and sustainability lens thus that will enable us to harness our collective voices in dealing with pressing trade and investment challenges confronting the Pacific which includes the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations – our single biggest shared resource which has the potential to achieve the future sustainable development aspirations of our Blue Pacific.
We need to leverage our collective interests as a Blue Pacific Continent within the context of the 2050 Strategy and take advantage of synergies through regional value chains, e-commerce and digital transformation and investing in new and emerging industries that will reshape the global economic order. Sectors such as financial technologies (FINTECH), artificial intelligence and robotics have the potential to increase our region’s competitiveness, and in turn create the jobs of the future which are well paying and at the higher end of the service value chain.
This briefing is intended to be a stock take of where we are on critical trade issues as a region but importantly to get the views and strategic guidance of Senior Trade Officials on key issues the Secretariat needs to explore further as we prepare for the next FTMM to be held in 2021, contingent on the decision of Leaders.
Allow me also to acknowledge the financial support and technical assistance provided by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), The European Union (EU), The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB) and the Commonwealth Secretariat. This has enabled seamless implementation of the Trade Work Programme across the region.
Keeping this in mind, the agenda set before you outlines two (2) key items for deliberations and consideration: The progress of work under the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting (FTMM) and the Geneva Office Trade Work Programme.