JOINT EFFORTS: NSAs consider national and regional engagement

[Brisbane, Australia] Pacific Non-State Actors (NSAs) have urged strengthened national commitment for better understanding of substantial regional issues, such as PACER Plus negotiations.

NSA representatives were addressing Pacific Islands Forum government trade officials at the Second NSA Dialogue on PACER Plus that concluded yesterday in Brisbane, Australia.

The NSA Dialogue was held in advance of the Fourth Meeting of PACER Plus Officials scheduled for 27-29 March 2012, also in Brisbane.
PIANGO’s say

“Strengthened national commitment will lead to better understanding of issues and will support constructive, continuous engagement by NSAs throughout these important processes,” said Executive Director of the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO), Ms Emele Duituturaga.

“Consequently, NSAs will be better-positioned to contribute in a more substantial and productive way towards regional initiatives that affect us on the ground.”

Ms Duituturaga added that PIANGO is of the view that priority actions for all parties include the development of a mechanism for coordinating and tracking NSA engagement on PACER Plus at both the national and regional levels.

“We need National Action Plans for effective NSA engagement, as well as technical assistance and a coherent and predictable funding mechanism in place to support this,” she said.

“I hope that confirmation of this mechanism enables the consultations to be targeted. We want progress; we want economic development; we want benefits to be distributed widely.”

PIPSO’s role Chief Executive of the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), Ms Mereia Volavola (pictured above), remarked that results of a recent PIPSO member survey highlighted the need for improved in-country consultations on PACER Plus.

“Our members need clear indication of what PACER Plus will effectively constitute so that the dialogue can be meaningful and specific to the issues being negotiated,” said Ms Volavola.

Cook Islands’ private sector representative at the NSA Dialogue, Teresa Manarangi-Trott, said countries with weaker and less mature private sectors are less likely to engage in dialogue and therefore PIPSO’s role to strengthen a central national private sector organisation is essential.

“It is these same countries with weak private sector organisations that will benefit the most from deeper dialogue and potential benefits towards private sector growth and economic sustainability from initiatives such as PACER Plus,” said Ms Manarangi-Trott.

National private sector organisations are nominated national representatives such as Chambers of Commerce and national civil society organisations mandated to represent their constituents at the regional level, including through PIPSO. OCTA commitment Newly appointed Chief Trade Adviser of the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser (OCTA) based in Vanuatu, Dr Edwini Kessie (pictured above), said he looked forward to providing further support to the Forum Island Countries to broaden their national consultations to include all relevant stakeholders, including Non-State Actors.

“Qualitatively, this NSA Dialogue could also receive briefings on substantive issues being discussed in PACER Plus negotiations,” said Dr Kessie.

“The outcomes of the PACER Plus negotiations will have real impacts on the different stakeholders: the private sector from producers, processors, service providers, smallholders and traders, to the consumers, the communities and various social and interest groups.

“It is only when they have enough information and understanding of the substantive issues in PACER Plus that they can provide sufficient and informed inputs into the negotiation process.

“OCTA strongly believes that the process has to be inclusive and enjoy the broad support of all stakeholders if PACER Plus is to achieve its overarching objective of assisting the FICs to achieve sustainable growth and development.

“The OCTA, and myself personally, are committed to working closely and constructively with non-state actors.”

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For media enquiries contact Ms Mue Bentley Fisher, the Forum Secretariat’s Communications Officer on (679) 9998677 or email: mueb@forumsec.org.fj