The Forum Monthly Review

PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT

July 2002

The Forum Review is a monthly e-bulletin provided by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to inform recipients on Forum events and activities. Views and comments to info@forumsec.org.fj 

Recent Events

Eminent Persons Group

The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Mr Noel Levi, CBE, met with the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Hon Sir Allan Kemakeza, in Honiara 26 July to discuss a report prepared by the Forum Eminent Persons Group.

The report looked at the current political, economic and security situation in the country and made recommendations on how the region can assist the Solomon Islands. The Solomon Islands Prime Minister was given the first opportunity to go over the report, before it is presented at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Fiji in mid-August.

The Group was led by Fiji’s former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Filipe Bole, and included a former senior Australian diplomat, Mr Greg Urwin, and the former head of the Forum Fisheries Agency and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, Mr Phillip Muller, from Samoa. The Group was established by the Secretary General following consultations with the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Hon. Sir Allan Kemakeza. Their appointments were an extension of the Secretary General’s "Good Offices" role, with each member participating in their own right and not as representatives of their government.

New Caledonia mission

The Forum Ministerial mission on New Caledonia ended a week long fact-finding mission to the French territory on 26 July on the implementation of the Noumea Accord and related developments. It was the sixth such visit of the Committee since its inception in 1990, and the mission report will go before Forum Leaders who meet in Fiji in mid-August.

The Ministerial mission comprised Honourable Kaliopate Tavola MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Fiji as mission Chair, Honourable Alex Bartlett, MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Solomon Islands and Honourable Ross Cain, MP, Minister for Works and Home Affairs of Nauru.

The Forum Ministerial Committee was mandated originally to maintain an active and vigilant observation of developments in New Caledonia, including progress on social, economic and political developments in the Territory, and in the implementation of the Matignon Accords. Now that the Noumea Accord has replaced the Matignon Accords, the focus of the Forum Ministerial Committee’s visit has shifted towards the implementation process of the Noumea Accord.

Forum Economic Ministers Meeting

The sixth annual Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) met in Port Vila 3-4 July, to promote sustainable development through regional and national actions. The Ministers issued a Forum Economic Action Plan 2002 as well as the following Joint Statement:

FORUM ECONOMIC MINISTERS MEETING

Port Vila, Vanuatu 3-4 July 2002

JOINT STATEMENT

The sixth Forum Economic Ministers Meeting has reaffirmed the importance of cooperation within the Pacific region to meet the challenges, and make better use of the opportunities, of globalisation. Ministers and Heads of Delegations from the sixteen Forum member countries and eleven observer organisations concluded a two-day meeting in Port Vila, Vanuatu today, and issued a Forum Economic Action Plan 2002.

Ministers recognised the strong inter-relationship between global and regional economic trends and the economic performance of Forum island countries.

There was a pressing need to address internal economic weaknesses in Forum island countries to better withstand international economic downturns and to take advantage of global growth.

Ministers reviewed a stocktake of past FEMM decisions, since the first Forum Economic Ministers meeting in 1997, and considered progress in implementation.

Good progress has been made by member countries in many areas, despite constraints in financial and human capacity. However, some of the broader issues raised by FEMM require a refocusing of attention on good governance, use of broad-based consultation and socio-economic impact assessments and improving the business environment.

Ministers recognised that economic reform was most successful when conducted in partnership with the private sector. The Ministers encouraged wider consultation with all private sector interests when developing economic reform policies so that the implementation of those policies would be more effective. They also recognised that developing an environment of trust and mutual respect is a prerequisite for successful consultation between the public and private sectors.

The interlinked nature of the economies of small island states was highlighted through ministerial discussion of incorporating environmental and social issues into the economic planning and budgeting processes. This would allow the economic impacts of these concerns to be better recognised and addressed. To this end, Ministers agreed to look at the issue of ‘Economic and Social Development and the Environment’ at their next annual meeting.

Australia ratifies PACER

Australia has ratified the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER). Australian Treasurer Hon Peter Costello handed over the instrument of ratification to Secretary General Mr Noel Levi, CBE, on 3 July during the opening of the 6th Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Australia is the sixth Pacific Islands Forum member to ratify the PACER, joining Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga. The economic cooperation agreement comes into force when seven Forum members have ratified it. The separate Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) sets up a free trade area over ten years among the FICs, initially excluding Australia and New Zealand. The PICTA requires six ratifications and currently has four - Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

Forum Leaders endorsed the PACER and PICTA at their summit last August in Nauru, with members encouraged to sign and ratify the agreements within 12 months. The Forum meets in August this year in Fiji.

FSM relief funds

The Federated States of Micronesia received FJ$20,000 from the Regional Natural Disaster Relief Fund in July, to assist with relief efforts following Tropical Storm Chataan that left nearly 50 people dead and caused widespread damage. The Fund was established in 1975 by Forum Island Countries. It is administered by the Forum Secretariat and provides a modest source of financial relief in the wake of natural disasters in FICs.

FORUM CALENDAR

Selected meetings in August

CONTACT ADDRESS

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Private Mail Bag, Suva, FIJI. Ratu Sukuna Road, Suva. Tel (679) 3312 600 Fax: (679) 3301 102 E-mail: mailto:info@forumsec.org.fj  Web: http://www.forumsec.org.fj/  Mirror: http://chacmool.sdnp.undp.org/pacific/forumsec/default1.htm 

 

Forum Secretariat, Suva 30 July 2002

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