Progress on Pacific ACP matters

[Auckland, New Zealand] Climate change, trade negotiations and development coordination were some of the key matters for deliberation by Pacific ACP Leaders who gathered today in Auckland, New Zealand.

The 9th meeting of the Pacific ACP Leaders marked one of the first in a series of meetings being held in advance of the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in Auckland tomorrow.

In his opening remarks to Pacific ACP Leaders, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, said considerable progress had been made across their broad regional agenda over 2011.

In particular, trade negotiations to progress the Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations with the European Union had progressed considerably over 2011 and were entering their concluding phase.

“At their meetings this year, Pacific ACP Trade Ministers directed their officials to take the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations with the European Union to their conclusion,” said Mr Slade.

“Your Secretariat has worked closely with Officials to complete the necessary preparations for the next meeting with the European Commission, including the development of a revised draft legal text and the submission of eight Market Access Offers in July.”

The Pacific ACP Trade Ministers met again in August and agreed to a Revised Roadmap for Pacific ACP Leaders’ consideration that sets out the work that will take the region to the end of the negotiations.

Mr Slade said the region has also made considerable progress in the management of the European Development Fund under the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme.

“The 8th Regional Indicative Programme is now effectively complete, with final reviews underway and the 9th Regional Indicative Programme is nearing completion,” said Mr Slade.

“The 10th Regional Indicative Programme is well underway and is funding a range of projects in areas such as fisheries, resource management, trade negotiation and cooperation, customs administration reform and strengthening national budget administration and support for non-state actors.”

Mr Slade explained that of the 95 million Euros provided under the 10th Regional Indicative Programme, almost 54 million Euros has been secured under existing or commencing projects. It is anticipated that a further 26 million Euros will be committed by the end of this year.

The Secretary General also noted the good progress made recently to take the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) Trade in Services (TIS) negotiations through to a conclusion.

“I note, however, that despite your strong encouragement, only seven Forum Countries have announced readiness to trade under PICTA, which is unchanged since last year.

“This agreement is critical to the development of a single market among our countries, and I commend this initiative to those countries yet to complete their preparations,” Mr Slade said.

During today’s half day meeting, the Pacific ACP Leaders also considered issues relating to climate change, and received an update from Ms Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action of the European Commission.

The Pacific ACP Leaders meeting is attended by heads of all Forum Island Countries. It is the second of Forum Leaders meetings being held in Auckland this week. The 42nd Pacific Islands Forum will be officially open on Wednesday 7th September with the Leaders’ Retreat on Thursday 8th September.

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For media enquiries contact the Forum Secretariat’s Communications Officer, Ms Mue Bentley Fisher (mueb@forumsec.org.fj) or Media Officer, Mr Johnson Honimae (johnsonh@forumsec.org.fj/ +64 (0)221563078)