Welcome Remarks for OIC, Apaitia Veiogo,
at the 1st PRISE Regional Private Sector Consultation, 30 May 2023
- The Assistant Minister of Finance, Hon. Mr. Esrom Immanuel
- The Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation for the Pacific, Mr Michael Krejza
- Distinguished participants – [attending in person here at the Secretariat as well as those joining us virtually from around the region]
- Ladies and Gentlemen
Ni sa bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
- On behalf of the PRISE Partners, namely the European Union, the Pacific Islands Forum, the Pacific Community, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and the Forum Fisheries Agency under our sister Pacific-EU Maritime Partnership programme, I warmly welcome you to the 1st EU-Pacific Regional Private Sector Consultation.
- My role this morning is simply to set the stage for open discussions with our private sector stakeholders from across the region and to provide you with this platform, not only to gain knowledge and a better understanding of what’s on offer but also share your unique experiences and insights with each other.
- We’re honored to have Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Minister for Trade, Cooperatives, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Communications, Hon. Viliame Gavoka, grace this event as the Chief Guest today. We look forward to his insights on Fiji’s perspectives on leveraging private-sector engagement in growing the economy through international trade and improving livelihoods for our peoples across the Pacific.
- Noting that for some of you it may be the first time to learn about the EU-PRISE Programme, we are honored to have the Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation for the Pacific Mr. Michael Krezja to shed more light.
- Mr. Krezja has been involved in planning and delivery of EU development programmes during his time with DG-DEVCO in Brussels, Belgium before joining the EU Delegation for the Pacific as the Head of Cooperation in 2020. He is very knowledgeable of the development challenges we face in the region. He is also chair of the Technical Coordination Group that consists of PRISE Programme implementation partners. We appreciate his participation at this event.
- Today the SPIRIT Project- one of the four components of the EU PRISE Programme will also be launching the Pacific EU Trade website which will be a soft information and knowledge repository for accessing the EU market, other relevant information germane to our private sector, including an online forum to enable continuous sharing of ideas and information,
- According to Statista, as of the third quarter of last year, more than 92% accessed the internet using their mobile phones. We can confirm similar trends in our region, so there’s no doubt that for our Pacific businesses or economic operators, having an online presence is a necessity, not an option.
- Today’s presentations later in the programme will be led by the SAFE Pacific project, which is managed by the Pacific Community (or SPC). They have been deliberately designed to cover only a few areas. This is to allow more time for interaction with the participants. We hope that by the end of the programme, you will find these exchanges informative and useful, with sufficient information to clearly identify the priority areas we should cover in the next session. This is not a one-off meeting. We wish to hold this event regularly with our private-sector partners over the years.
- Before I conclude, I wish to reaffirm an important point. Let’s walk the talk on putting the private sector where they belong as the engine of growth for our Pacific economies – at the core of national development strategy formulation and, more importantly, at the core of implementation. We are here today to listen to your voice, so make it count.
- With those words, I now invite the Honourable Assistant Minister of Finance, Mr. Esrom Immanuel, to deliver his keynote address and to officially open this meeting.
[Honourable Assistant Minister, you have the floor]