PACIFIC ACP LEADERS MEETING
Aiwo District, Nauru
3 September 2018
Pacific Members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (PACP) group Leaders and their representatives from Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu met on 3 September 2018, in Aiwo District, Nauru. The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Baron Waqa, President of Nauru.
- In her opening statement, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor highlighted the importance of effective engagement by the region in the negotiations for a successor to the ACP-European Union (EU) Partnership Agreement (Cotonou Agreement). The Secretary General added that the collective priorities conveyed in these negotiations need to be aligned to the regionalism priorities determined through the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, and should build on the region’s effort for the common Blue Pacific identity, noting that Blue Pacific solidarity will be needed throughout the negotiations, and beyond.
- The Chair thanked the Prime Minister of Samoa, Honourable Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, for his stewardship during his term as the PACP Chair. The Chair recalled the historical context of the ACP-EU relations, and encouraged the parties to reflect on the achievements and shortfalls in the existing relations, and ensure that the Pacific region maintain the ability to exercise its will over the Blue Pacific in any new arrangement, including the strengthening of engagement with the African, Caribbean and European regions.
POST COTONOU AGREEMENT
- The ACP-EU Partnership Agreement signed in Cotonou in 2000 expires in 2020. Leaders noted the state of play of the preparations for the post-Cotonou negotiations, the Pacific-specific priorities, and the engagement strategy for the negotiations. The Leaders also noted that the ACP Negotiating Mandate and the EU Negotiating Directives have been published, with the post-Cotonou negotiations commencing in October 2018.
- Leaders noted the ACP proposal for a Central Negotiating Group meeting at a Ministerial level on 23 September 2018 in New York and the associated agenda. Leaders agreed that any meeting with the EU at this stage focus primarily on sharing of information on post-Cotonou negotiations.
- Leaders supported the Pacific priorities for post-Cotonou negotiations specifically on ocean governance through the Blue Pacific identity; safeguarding the region’s resources and security; elevating the Blue and Green Economy; commitment to addressing climate change and disaster resilience; developing micro-small-medium enterprises; and supporting youth and vulnerable groups.
- In terms of trade and development cooperation, Leaders agreed that the focus be on Aid for Trade and the need to develop Pacific-specific narratives on fisheries, trade in services, investment, industrialisation (through value addition and supply chains), e-commerce, digital economy, cultural industries, gender, youth, labour mobility, and rural development, including informal sector, given that these areas represent promising future for the PACP States’ (PACPS) engagement with the African, Caribbean and the European regions.
- Leaders directed the Secretariat to further consult, coordinate and articulate the region’s negotiating priorities with the PACPS, Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) agencies, private sector and civil society.
- Leaders also directed the Secretariat to provide regular updates to the PACPS on the post-Cotonou negotiations, and strengthen its PACP communication channels to ensure all relevant stakeholders receive information relating to all aspects of the post-Cotonou negotiation process in a timely and effective manner.
- Leaders urged the EU to ensure requisite regional resources under the 11th European Development Fund is allocated towards effective PACP engagement in the post-Cotonou negotiations.
PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT PRESENCE IN EUROPE
- Leaders welcomed the appointment of a Pacific Islands Representative to support the PACPS in advancing the region’s collective agenda through the post-Cotonou negotiations, including support for PACPS’ engagement in relevant ACP-EU initiatives.
- Leaders thanked the Government of Papua New Guinea for hosting the Secretariat Office in its Embassy in Brussels, and the EU for co-funding the Representative position, while noting the Secretariat’s efforts to negotiate a host agreement with the Government of Belgium for a Secretariat presence in Brussels as an international intergovernmental organisation.
- Leaders directed the Secretariat to seek additional resources from the EU to support effective representation in Brussels and Geneva.
- Leaders agreed that the Secretariat’s Geneva Office support Forum Island Countries’ (FICs) engagement in relevant United Nations agencies, and other international organisations in Geneva, in addition to the current role to support FICs’ engagement with the World Trade Organisation.
- Leaders directed the Secretariat to progress work for the establishment of a multi-country presence in Geneva, including provision of detailed cost structures, subject to the confirmation of a sufficient number of expressions of interest by the FICs.
EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT FUND (EDF) UPDATE
- Leaders noted the update on the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme (PRIP), the ACP-EU Cooperation Framework for Private Sector Development, and the Intra-ACP Hubs and Spokes (H&S) Progamme. Leaders noted that progress in implementing the 11th EDF remains slow, notwithstanding that financing agreements for most regional programmes have now been signed and good progress was being made in programming Priority Area 1 on Regional Economic Integration with EUR37 million earmarked for regional action.
Pacific Regional Indicative Programme
- Leaders encouraged the Regional Economic Integration Working Group, under co-Chairs the Secretariat and Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), to complete a final draft action document to progress the implementation of the Regional Economic Integration programme, acceptable to all stakeholders.
- Leaders urged the EU to accelerate the programming and commitment of funds under the blending component of the PRIP for the regional initiatives, as well as for the national initiatives for Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea with the funding earmarked from their National Indicative Programmes.
ACP-EU Cooperation Framework for Private Sector Development
- Leaders urged the ACP Secretariat to expedite the selection and appraisal of regional project proposals submitted from the PACPS for immediate implementation, including support for technical assistance in building the capacity of private sector.
- Leaders requested the ACP Secretariat to ensure that international agencies selected as the primary implementing partners work closely with regional organisations, as appropriate, in the planning and implementation of regional interventions.
- Leaders urged the ACP Secretariat, in partnership with ACP Regional Focal Points, to enhance the visibility and awareness of the ACP Private Sector Development Strategy at the regional level, including through allocating financial resources to Regional Focal Points to support the implementation and promotion of the ACP Private Sector Development Strategy.
Hubs and Spokes Programme
- Leaders acknowledged the importance of the H&S programme in supporting trade development work in the region and strongly commended its contribution to the PACPS.
- Leaders urged the Commonwealth Secretariat, in partnership with development partners, to reshape and extend the H&S programme beyond November 2018, focusing on the implementation of trade agreements, including increased involvement of PACP nationals.
TRADE AGREEMENTS (PICTA, EPA, post BREXIT)
- Leaders considered the deepening and broadening of the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA); arrangements to access the EU market, in the absence of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (C-EPA), and its impact on graduating Least Developed Countries (LDCs); and the uncertainty created by BREXIT.
- Leaders emphasised the need to retain commitment at the multilateral level including alignment with regional efforts under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and the Blue Pacific narrative, the Regional Roadmap on Sustainable Fisheries, and Leaders’ priorities.
- Leaders agreed that all FICs need to fully engage in PICTA trade in goods and services, and make concerted efforts to remove barriers to intra-FIC trade.
- Leaders urged the Secretariat to provide support to PACPS that intend to accede to the Interim EPA.
- Leaders noted that the Secretariat is undertaking assessments to consider the status of and provide recommendations on: (a) contentious C-EPA issues; (b) transitional arrangements in the wake of BREXIT; and (c) alternative market access arrangements into EU and United Kingdom markets.
- Leaders directed PACP Trade Ministers to explore a way forward on the C-EPA negotiations noting its expiry period and the relevant assessment undertaken, including the possibility of considering the unresolved issues as part of the post-Cotonou negotiations.
EU LISTING OF NON-COOPERATIVE JURISDICTIONS ON TAX MATTERS
- Leaders expressed deep concerns that the EU has unilaterally compiled a list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, which includes countries in the Pacific region.
- Leaders urged the EU to reexamine its criteria, and review the process through which they consult with the countries, and ensure that sufficient time is given to the countries to undertake necessary adjustments to their taxation regimes, including the possibility for the countries to retain sufficient policy space to incentivise development.
- Leaders agreed that the Secretariat coordinate PACPS’ active participation in the ad hoc ACP Ministerial Contact Group on tax matters, including their engagement with the EU, with a view to securing better outcomes for the affected countries.
- Leaders noted the interest by Cook Islands to be a part of the PACP representation in the ACP Ministerial Contact Group on tax matters.
- The Chair thanked the Leaders for their contributions and decisions, and the Secretariat and CROP agencies for their support. The Chair also thanked the ACP Secretariat and the EU for their ongoing support to the Pacific region.
Aiwo District, Nauru
3 September 2018