OACPS Secretary General Chikoti addresses Pacific OACPS Trade Ministers

ADDRESS TO THE PACIFIC OACPS TRADE MINISTERS MEETING

BY H.E. GEORGES REBELO PINTO CHIKOTI

SECRETARY-GENERAL,

ORGANISATION OF THE AFRICAN, CARIBBEAN AND PACIFIC STATES (OACPS)

15 July 2021

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Honourable Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport of Fiji, and Chair of the OACPS Pacific Trade Ministers,

Honourable Ministers of Trade of the Pacific ACP,

Your Excellency Henry Puna, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum,

Distinguished Participants,

Thank you for inviting me, as a special guest, to address you.

I would have preferred to give this statement live, to allow us to exchange views, however, due to time scheduling and other conflicting engagements, this is not possible.

I am however happy to be able to participate virtually.

I was informed that the Ambassador of the Solomon Islands and Chair of the OACPS Committee of Ambassadors, H. E. Mr. Moses Mose, is also participating in this meeting, and naturally, he could provide, if so required, an important input from the Brussels scene.

Honorable Ministers,

At the outset, I salute and applaud you for setting up the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting, a unique regional ministerial-level platform for framing strategic regional solutions to trade challenges faced by Pacific Members of the OACPS.

Your meeting is a timely event to address the impact of COVID-19 and to consider a post-pandemic recovery strategy. There is a need to deliberate on how to reinstate disrupted regional supply chains with not only traditional trading partners, but in new markets as well. This is not a simple task.

In addition, the ongoing climate change crisis, which has severely affected the Pacific region, calls for innovative policies and measures for building resilient businesses and forging greater regional interdependence.

Furthermore, it is necessary to adopt a collective regional approach to engage the rest of the world in areas of shared interest such as trade, and negotiation of multilateral rules to sustainably manage, use and conserve the vast and valuable marine resources, available in the Pacific region.

Honourable Ministers

The new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement, which we expect to be called the “Samoa Agreement”, was initialed on 15 April 2021. This marked the end of the formal negotiations. I have been asked to provide insights and highlight ways in which the Pacific region can maximize the full benefits of the new Agreement.

The OACPS-EU cooperation is set to be more political and geared towards achieving greater ambitions at local, national, regional, continental and international levels.

In addition to the main objectives, there are priorities that are specific to each of the OACPS regions. Under the Pacific-EU Protocol, the Parties have agreed to work together to strengthen the political partnership and protect the oceans and seas from various threats, including climate change, ocean acidification, over-exploitation, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Furthermore, the sustainable development of the blue economy is of critical importance for the Pacific region, with its varied marine ecosystems. The Parties will work in concert to safeguard them and their biodiversity.

The new Agreement will emphasise cooperation in international fora and on building alliances on the global scene. This is especially important given that the EU and its Member States and Members of the OACPS jointly represent over half of the membership at the United Nations.

Working together towards common goals, while strengthening multilateralism, is important, in that all Members of the OACPS, small and big, will have a louder voice at the international stage. We believe that the Pacific Members of the OACPS will utilise and benefit from this aspect of the new Agreement.

Honourable Ministers,

The Pacific Regional Protocol will have its own specific governance structures to manage and steer the region’s relations with the EU. The OACPS Secretariat will adhere to the application of the principles of subsidiarity, complementarity and proportionality, in the implementation of the new Agreement. However, the Secretariat will always be ready to contribute in areas in which it can provide added value to the implementation process at the regional level.

With regard to available financing arrangements for the implementation of the Agreement, the EU has adopted a new financial instrument, the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) – also known as “Global Europe”, to replace the European Development Fund (EDF). For the next 7 years, from 2021 to 2027, the financial allocation is EUR 29 Billion for Sub-Saharan Africa;

EUR 800 million for the Caribbean, and

EUR 500 million for the Pacific.

It should be noted that the NDICI will operate differently from the EDF. For example, the role of National and Regional Authorising Officers is uncertain in the new arrangement. We are consulting with the European Commission and the European External Action Service to organize additional regional seminars, and we will keep you informed.

In the meantime, we have been informed that NDICI Programming has commenced. The EU Delegations in capitals and regions of the OACPS are spearheading the process. In order to ensure better coordination, I would call for sharing of information of what is going on in the regions. At the same time, I would encourage the region to ensure that its interests, including adequate financial resources for supporting the implementation of the new Agreement, are catered for during the programming process.

A number of Programmes that were funded under the 11th European Development Fund, will continue to be implemented in the coming years.

Honourable Ministers

In closing, I wish to recall that the ACP mandate emphasized the need for the Members of the OACPS to be guided by the overriding principle of unity and solidarity during the negotiations of the new Agreement. For unity is strength in our diversity.  The unity of the OACPS lies in the hands of its Member States.

I wish you a successful meeting.

Thank you.

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