Pacific ACP trade officials discuss trade, economic integration

Oct 4, 2023 | Blog, Cook Islands, News, Pacific

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna addresses the meeting. Photo Courtesy: Pacnews

The Pacific ACP Trade Officials Meeting (PACPTOM) met in Suva on 3 October, marking a crucial gathering of Pacific members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). The primary focus of this meeting was to engage in discussions concerning sustainable development, collaboration, and interactions with the European Union (EU).

The agenda of the meeting encompassed a wide array of topics, including an exploration of the Regional Trade and Investment Landscape, the evaluation of regional trade agreements, and the identification of trade prospects with the United States and other key trading partners.

In his inaugural address at the PACPTOM in Suva, Jim Armistead, the Cook Islands High Commissioner to Fiji, said the pivotal role that trade plays in facilitating greater regional economic integration. He stressed the importance of harmonising trade-related systems, processes, and regulations, as well as enabling the smoother flow of goods and services across borders.

Armistead said, “While historically, this meeting has primarily focused on EU-Pacific trade partnerships, it was heartening to witness the consideration of relations with emerging and non-traditional markets. This shift was especially significant as it could bolster economic recovery efforts in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He went on to acknowledge the comprehensive agenda at hand and the collective responsibility of trade officials to deliberate on these critical issues. Their recommendations were instrumental in charting the course forward for trade development in the Pacific region, fostering trust and confidence in the wisdom of the PACPTOM.

Armistead further disclosed that during the last Forum Leaders Meeting, the Cook Islands presented the ‘Pacific Partnership for Prosperity (PPfP),’ featuring nine transformative initiatives. One of the standout initiatives was the development of the Regional Framework on Climate Mobility, championed by Tuvalu and Fiji, which was balanced with the Pacific Labour Mobility Framework. The PPfP aimed to attract new funding, investments, and partnerships to benefit Pacific communities.

He concluded his remarks by highlighting the alignment of that year’s Forum Leaders meeting theme, “Our Voices, Our Choices; Our Pacific Way: Promote, Partner, Prosper,” with the vision outlined in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent articulated by Pacific Leaders. The Implementation Plan for the 2050 Strategy was nearing finalisation and was expected to receive endorsement from Leaders during their convening.