PACER Plus Parties Emphasise Regional Economic Integration at the 2023 Forum Trade Ministers Meeting

22 Dec 2023

SUVA, Fiji – The 2023 Forum Trade Ministers Meeting (FTMM) convened on 6 October 2023 in Suva, Fiji where delegates engaged in discussions on key priorities that will shape the future of trade and investment in the region.

(L-R) Ms. Sovaia Marawa, Melaneasian Spearhead Group Secretariat; Mr. Esala Nayasi, Pacific Islands Forum's Deputy Secretary General; Mrs. Laisiana Tugaga, PPIU's Operations and Secretariat Manager; H.E. Ambassador Mere Falemaka, Permanent Delegation of the Pacific Islands Forum to the United Nations, World Trade Organisation.

The meeting was chaired by the Cook Islands, and attended by PACER Plus Parties Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu as well as the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, and Marshall Islands.

Key priorities discussed during the meeting included the current Regional Trade and Investment Landscape, the implementation of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy, private sector development priorities, and labour mobility.

Representatives from the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus) Parties emphasised the pivotal role of PACER Plus as a mechanism for regional economic integration. The discussions underscored the commitment to principles of regionalism and sustainable socio-economic development, highlighting the importance of collaboration among Pacific nations.

The 2023 FTMM recognised the need for alignment across regional frameworks to increase efficiency gains and enhance development returns to member countries. Participants acknowledged the significance of fostering cooperation and solidarity in addressing shared challenges and pursing common goals for the Pacific.

Mrs. Laisiana Tugaga, Operations and Secretariat Manager of the PACER Plus Implementation Unit (PPIU) stated, "The 2023 FTMM provided a valuable platform for PACER Plus Parties to strengthen their commitment to regional economic integration. The discussions reflected a shared vision for the sustainable development of the Pacific, and the PACER Plus Implementation Unit is eager to work collaboratively with the Pacific Islands Forum on common initiatives for the region."