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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

THIRD PACIFIC ACP AID-FOR-TRADE MEETING 28 APRIL 2011; TANOA INTERNATIONAL, NADI

The Third Round Table Meeting on Aid-for-Trade (AfT) was held at the Tanoa International Hotel, in Nadi, Fiji, on 28 April, 2010. Trade and Senior Officials from the following Pacific Island Countries (PICs) were present: the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. A representative from Timor Leste was also present at the meeting.

The following Pacific development partners and donors, members of the Council of the Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) and regional and international organisations were also represented at the RTM: Australia, Germany, Indonesia, India, New Zealand, the European Commission (EC), the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat, Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Pacific Regional Infrastructure Advisory Centre, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser. The Meeting was chaired by Mr Shaheen Ali, the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Fiji.
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The objective of the meeting was to bring together interested parties to focus collectively on the trade capacity building needs of PICs and Timor-Leste with a view to mobilizing Aid for Trade (AfT) resources in an efficient and timely manner to address these needs. The Meeting aimed to provide direction to finalise key work programs including the regional status analysis of trade facilitation programs, the refresh and renew of the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy, and the identification and mobilisation of AfT funds.


CHAIR’S OPENING REMARKS MR. SHAHEEN ALI, DEPUTY SECRETARY FOR ECONOMICS AND TRADE, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS & INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors & High Commissioners
Madam Convener, Ms Patricia Sachs-Cornish, Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Director Economic Governance Program, Dr Chakriya Bowman
Members of the Diplomatic Corp and Representatives of our Development Partners
Heads and Representatives of the Regional Organisations & CROP Agencies
Senior Trade & Finance Officials from the Region and Colleagues

Bula Vinaka to you all.

On behalf of the Government of Fiji, I join the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in welcoming you all to Nadi and to this 3rd Aid for Trade Round Table meeting. In particular, I wish to acknowledge our Development Partners that have vested their time to be with us and through their presence contribute towards the strengthening of the Aid for Trade Roundtable process. We view this Roundtable consultations with our Development Partners as a vital step in delivering tangible and targeted Aid for Trade benefits to the Region.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I am sure we all aware of the unique development challenges faced by the Pacific Region, which coupled with the detrimental effects of climate change and natural disasters, places the Region in a very vulnerable position. Aid for Trade is not being proposed here as a panacea to these problems, but has the potential to unlock the benefits from trade liberalization and trade facilitation, which could mitigate some of these challenges to development.
 
In light of this, I would like to refer to the goal that our Leaders have set under the Pacific Plan, which is to enhance and stimulate economic growth and promote sustainable development in Pacific Island Countries through the strengthening of regional cooperation and integration. One of the vital pillars of the Pacific Plan is to use trade as a vehicle to promote sustainable economic growth and development with the ultimate objective of alleviating poverty.  To this end, the Pacific Island Countries are engaged in a wide range of important multilateral, regional, sub-regional and bilateral trade liberalisation arrangements and negotiations.

However, for many Pacific Island Countries, trade liberalisation alone is not enough to integrate their vulnerable economies with their more developed partners. This is where initiatives such as AfT could play a vital role in enabling the Region to better cope with the myriad of challenges arising out of these various trade arrangements.  AfT will allow the Pacific Island Countries to build productive capacity, address their supply-side constraints and boost competitiveness. It will also enable them to produce goods and services that can be traded competitively in regional and global markets.


During the course of the day, as per the draft Agenda, we hope to have fruitful discussions and exchange of views and information on pertinent regional AfT issues such as:

  • Progress and Stock-take AfT and Trade Facilitation in Region
  • The Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy, which was endorsed by the Pacific ACP (PACP) Trade Ministers at their meeting in June 2009
  • Mechanisms of delivering Aft Resources such the Roundtable Process and the proposed Pacific Trade & Development Facility (PTDF)

Ladies & Gentlemen, with your cooperation and guidance we hope to make significant progress on these Regional AfT initiatives which will in turn deliver results that we have envisaged in our Regional plans and strategies.

With those few words, I would now request the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to present the draft agenda for the meeting.