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     Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service

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Media Release

Permanent Secretary Mara Addresses ACP Trade Meeting

 solo mara

24th June 2011, Suva: Mr. Solo Mara, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation addresses the Pacific ACP Trade and Finance Officials on Development Cooperation Issues in the EPA with EU.  The Meeting took place on Friday, 24 June 2011, at the Westin Spa & Resort in Nadi, Fiji. The theme for the meeting was, "SELF SUFFICIENCY VERSUS AID DEPENDENCY"

Permanent Secretary Mara's address is as follows:

"Your Excellencies
Madam Convener, Ms Partricia Sachs-Cornish, Secretariat of the Pacific Community
The Director Economic Governance Program, Dr Charkriya Bowman
Senior Trade and Finance Officials of the PACP States
PIFS Officials & Advisors

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning; On behalf of the Government of Fiji, I extend to you all a very warm welcome to Fiji and to Denarau, Nadi. It is always our pleasure and honor to host the Officials from the Pacific ACP Region and renew the very strong friendship and bond that exists between us.

I would also like take this opportunity to thank the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat for convening and organizing this meeting.

Furthermore, I would like to place on record Fiji's appreciation and gratitude for the facilitation of our participation in this PACP meeting, particularly your support and recognition of our status as a full and active member of the Pacific ACP group and as such the recognition that Fiji should participate in all PACP meetings and activities, at all levels, so I thank everyone that played a part in getting us here.

Ladies and Gentlemen during the course of the meeting, we will address issues which emanated from the earlier '3rd Roundtable Meeting on Aid for Trade' and the 'PACP Development Cooperation Chapter Workshop', held on the 28th and 29th of April 2011, in Nadi. As was discussed then, the PACPs were to conduct National Consultations on various proposals such as the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy (PAfTS), the Pacific Trade & Development Facility (PTDF) and the Draft Development Cooperation Chapter of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and come to this meeting with constructive proposals on the way forward for progressing these issues and the timeframe involved. I would also suggest that your proposals need to recognise of the broader Roadmap that was approved by the PACP Trade Ministers, in February in Apia, that is, to conclude PACPs' Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations with the European Union by the end of 2011.

Colleagues, Madam Convener, the Agenda for this meeting will discuss:
  1. the revised draft development cooperation chapter of the PACP-EU EPA;
  2. the revised memorandum of understanding (MOU) and draft report establishing the Pacific Trade and Development Facility (PTDF);
  3. the proposed structure for and timeframe to refresh and renew the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy; and
  4. the framework to engage development partners in the Pacific Trade and Development facility and the Pacific AfT Strategy.

You will no doubt agree that these are important initiatives for the PACPs and our EPA negotiations, therefore our decisions on these issues need to provide clear recommendations to the Pacific ACP Trade Officials and Trade Ministers who meet next month in Port Moresby. I assure you that with your support I will to guide the meeting towards this objective.

Before we commence with the business of the day, let me share with you briefly my views on the broader aspect of development cooperation. Most of the initiatives that will be discussed today will be aimed at directing more financial and technical resources to the trade related areas of the PACP Region. However, as was pointed out by Solomon Islands (H.E. Moses Mose) at the last meeting, our Strategies and Facilities should have a long term vision of reducing our dependency on aid and enhancing our self sufficiency in sustaining economic growth and development in the Region.

The broader aim of development cooperation therefore should be how foreign aid and assistance can make meaningful and tangible difference in lifting the developing countries from the our current development challenges to high levels of prosperity and development, which is sustainable. The answer is that these programs are to be tailored to respond to the needs of the recipient country. The primary focus of development aid and its instruments need to be directed towards strengthening national mechanisms and processes, including national infrastructure and trade capacity. In this regard, the Paris Declaration principle of 'recipient country ownership' of development programs is of relevance.

I trust that when we are deliberating on development cooperation initiatives, the PACPs' interest and objectives would be at the forefront of these discussions. Accepting programs that is not targeted at making tangible benefits on the ground and which does not have the PACP ownership is tantamount to supporting programs that only sustains donor agencies and organisations, and this is not desired by anyone.

Ladies and Gentlemen, with your cooperation and guidance I am positive that we will make significant inroads this meeting towards advancing the development cooperation agenda for the PACPs.

With these few words colleagues, I would now request the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat to present the draft agenda for the meeting."

ps in nadi

Permanent Secretary Mara at ACP meeting