SECRETARY GENERAL HENRY PUNA
Pacific ACP Trade Officials Meeting
8th July 2021
Mr. Shaheen Ali, Chair of the Pacific Trade Officials Meeting
Heads of Delegations and Representatives of Forum Member Countries
Representatives of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific
Representatives of Technical Agencies and Development Partners
Ladies and Gentlemen
Kia Orana and good morning from a wintery Wellington.
I am pleased to be able to welcome you all to this Pacific ACP Trade Officials Meeting.
Whilst I would have preferred that we were meeting in person, I do recognise the unprecedented circumstances we are in and the importance of continuing to dialogue on our collective priorities.
At the outset, allow me to convey to the Chair and the Government of Fiji our collective condolences on the recent loss of life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and reassure the Government of our readiness to support, as required, their ongoing efforts in managing and controlling this second outbreak.
In turning to the meeting at hand, Excellencies and Senior Officials, allow me to acknowledge you all for the time taken to join these collective discussions today and tomorrow.
As I had highlighted with our Economic Officials on Monday, the last 18 months have been, perhaps, one of the toughest periods for our region, our countries and most especially, our people.
Today’s meeting presents a valuable opportunity to consider the progress on the mandates and decisions taken by Pacific ACP Trade Ministers at their meeting in 2020 and engage in a collective discussion on key priority issues, including:
the COVID-19 Impact to the Pacific Regional Trade Landscape;
the OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement;
a comprehensive Review of Trade Agreements in particular modernisation of PICTA; and
the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement to be endorsed by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in December.
Excellencies, Senior Officials, the present circumstances require Pacific ACP States to embrace proactive and innovative approaches and explore opportunities and mechanisms that will collectively support us in “staying ahead of the curve” on trade and development, including the development of a regional trade observatory and regional industrialization framework to boost trade competitiveness in the region.
PACP countries are party to key trade agreements which require effective implementation strategies, capacity building and institutional strengthening to achieve favourable outcomes through increased trade flow export and import; and to increase economic growth.
The pandemic has revealed core issues that ought to be revisited, such as utilisation of E-Commerce/ Digital Economy; Trade Diversification/ Emerging Sectors; Quality Infrastructure and; Trade Facilitation.
As we commemorate fifty years since the establishment of the Forum, we must leverage our collective efforts and bargaining power in light of our Leaders Vision and the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
Today’s meeting presents us with the opportunity to chart a long-term pathway in our engagement with Europe and other trade external partners as we may see fit.
With those very few remarks, I thank you Chair and Senior Officials and wish you all well in your deliberations today.–ENDS