Forum Trade Officials Meeting
11 July 2018
Tanoa Tusitala Hotel – Apia, Samoa
Introductory Remarks delivered by Mr Shiu Raj, Director Programme & Initiatives
Honourable Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, Samoa’s Minister responsible for Trade
Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executive Officers from Ministries of Trade from the region
Ladies and Gentlemen
- Let me commence by acknowledging our wonderful hosts, the Government and the people of Samoa. Allow me to express our deepest gratitude for the excellent arrangements that have been made for the series of meetings this week in Apia, for the Pacific region. Thank you for your warm hospitality.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my privilege to welcome you on behalf of the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, to the Forum Trade Officials Meeting. This week we are having a series of trade-related meetings that builds on the work that have been undertaken by the region to support regional economic cooperation and development, and promote regionalism in areas where it makes sense to engage collectively.
- You will recall that in 2017, Forum Leaders endorsed the Blue Pacific narrative as the core driver of collective action to advance the region’s vision of ‘peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity”. We are at a juncture where geo-politics, and protectionism are at play, affecting the global trading systems, and one which could see the smaller Pacific economies further marginalised.
- The Pacific region has, over the years, worked on numerous instruments for regional cooperation, collaboration, coordination, and (to some extent) integration. A number of sub-regional and regional initiatives are in place that have already provided significant benefits to our Members that have participated. However, there is still potential for a much deeper and intense engagement amongst the Forum Members so that better results are obtained through additional regionalism initiatives. The Framework for Pacific Regionalism provides for a public consultative process that is inclusive in nature, allowing anyone and everyone to propose ideas for improved regionalism in the Pacific.
- As the region prepares for the 49th Pacific Islands Forum in September 2018 in Nauru, the theme chosen, to guide our engagement, is about Building a Strong Pacific: “OUR PEOPLE, OUR ISLANDS, OUR WILL”. In our discussions this week, it is extremely important that we reflect on this theme and determine how we can build a stronger Pacific through practical initiatives that we can all be proud of.
- We will be starting our day with discussions on trade integration, regionalism and the Blue Pacific narrative for collective actions, followed by consideration of specific trade-related initiatives on which Members direction is needed to make further progress. The subject matters on our agenda goes beyond regional trade and covers elements that requires us to use our collective efforts to influence international discussions on issues that has direct impact on our economies.
- Senior Officials, Ladies and Gentlemen – I wish to conclude my brief introductory remarks by conveying an important message about the need for all Forum Members to prioritise your engagement in the various regionalism efforts that are being proposed for collective benefits. I wish you well in your deliberations, and I look forward to the keynote address.