FORUM COMMUNICATIONS ACTION PLAN - 2002 REVIEW

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PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT Suva, Fiji Islands

April 17, 2002

JOINT STATEMENT

Ministers responsible for communications in the Pacific Islands Forum region have agreed to pursue better, and more affordable, access by the public to information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The Ministers met in Suva on April 17, 2002 to review the 1999 Forum Communications Action Plan and to consider policy issues associated with ICT. The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. The theme of the meeting was ICT for Every Pacific Islander.

The continued rapid development and convergence of ICTs provide opportunities and challenges for Pacific Island countries, especially in the social and economic sectors. Such opportunities will be especially important for improving the prospects for youth and women as well as economic development.

The Ministers agreed that:

* the 1999 Communications Action Plan serves as a concise reference point for the stocktake process;

* greater efforts be made in data collection, with the assistance of the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association, and that the data be posted to a website;

* there be a renewed effort at assessing implementation of the Action Plan, in collaboration with PITA and request that PITA provide an opportunity at its annual meetings for progressing this work; and

* the findings be used to identify ways to improve national and regional policy formulation.

On cooperation, Ministers agreed that strong networking is required to ensure all stakeholders remain up-to-date on technologies. Members were requested to consider regular country participation in the annual technical meetings. They were also asked to take advantage of the resources of the CROP ICT Working Group and PITA to assist with national ICT issues and developments.

On legal and regulatory frameworks, Ministers directed that information on the Pacific Governance Project be forwarded to responsible national organisations to promote cross-sectoral participation in the development of a national telecommunications sector policy. The meeting supported the formation of national teams to work with their delegated national representative on the Pacific Governance Project.

On tariff issues, Ministers agreed to consider tariff re-balancing in collaboration with other relevant Ministries, bearing in mind the burden of cross-subsidization on some sectors but also the desire to provide universal access. Carriers would be encouraged to explain the case behind current and proposed tariff regimes when considering changes through regulation.

On the extension of the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) to trade in services, Ministers agreed to ensure that the telecommunications and ICT sectors be represented in national trade negotiations teams to ensure representation of telecommunications issues.

On international settlements and Internet charging, Ministers agreed to encourage service providers and industry stakeholders to make data available to the PITA Working Group; support joint regional representations on these issues at every opportunity. Ministers agreed that the Forum Secretariat, in collaboration with PITA, submit an information paper on international settlements and internet charging to the Forum.

On regional cooperation in communication regulation, Ministers agreed to information exchange, through PITA as the clearinghouse, and that this mechanism also be used to work toward harmonization of national legislation and regulations.

The Ministers directed the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to monitor developments at meetings of the ICANN Government Advisory Committee and ccTLDs, and inform member countries of developments in these fora.

Ministers also agreed to encourage the sharing of relevant information with national stakeholders to initiate programs for greater Internet use in the community.

On strategic planning, Ministers directed officials to disseminate information on the UNDP/UNOPS National Strategies Project to responsible national organizations to promote cross-sectoral participation in the development of national ICT strategies.

On the regional ICT Policy and Strategic Action Plan, Ministers agreed to adopt the Pacific Islands ICT Policy and Strategic Plan, and noted that it should be linked to the Regional Energy Policy and Plan. Members of the CROP ICT Working group, in consultation with member countries, were to conduct regular reviews and updating of the Plan.

For additional information, contact: Ulafala Aiavao at [email protected] 

Ulafala Aiavao Media Adviser Forum Secretariat Private Bag Suva, Fiji

Tel: (679) 220 220 Mob: (679) 998 674 Fax: (679) 305 554 Email: [email protected]  Web: www.forumsec.org.fj  Mirror site: http://chacmool.sdnp.undp.org/pacific/forumsec/default1.htm 

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