Delivered by the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Henry Puna
at the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting
6 October 2023, Suva, Fiji.
Kia Orana and Ni sa yadra vinaka!
We meet this morning at the end of a robust set of discussions throughout the week at both senior officials and ministerial levels.
I thank you for your time, your commitment to be here and participate at this forum, and your contribution to our collective values and aspirations and indeed, to the people that we all serve – our Pacific people.
It is increasingly clear that if we are to truly control and determine our development trajectory as a region, we will need to prioritise investment in our efforts to capitalise on economic opportunities, collectively.
We have the resources. We have the people.
The onus is on us to ensure that we can create a conducive and enabling environment to build and nurture these resources to inspire transformational and sustainable development for our people.
The criticality of trade and investment in delivering growth, development and sustainable outcomes cannot be emphasised enough.
The world in which we operate today has vastly evolved from that in which we existed a mere 5 years ago.
We witness the intensifying nature of climate change.
We contend with the increased complexity of geostrategic interests in the region.
In the wake of a global pandemic, and on the cusp of a destablising war between Ukraine and Russia, we, as a region, find ourselves at the mercy of erratic market fluctuations.
It is in circumstances such as this, that we must hold strong to our collective vision and efforts, to ensure that we can capitalise on the opportunities that emerge and share the challenges that we need to overcome.
Today, we have the valuable opportunity to discuss how we can position ourselves as a region, in the face of a fast-evolving global landscape.
Are our trade policies responsive to the changing global trade and investment landscape?
What more can we do to ensure that trade development responds to emerging challenges such as climate change, geopolitical tension, disruptive technologies?
Does the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and its implementation plan effectively respond to the emerging challenges that we see in global and regional trade?
Is your Secretariat playing an adequate role to improve complementarity and synergies across all agencies providing support to members in the area of trade? How can we strengthen our support to Members?
I encourage us all to be frank and constructive in our deliberations today as it is your decisions today, that will set the trajectory and work plan for regional trade over the next two years.
With these few remarks and noting the tight schedules ahead of us, I wish Honourable Ministers and representatives well in your discussion.
Meitaki ma’ata and I thank you.