7 Apr 2017
Pacific Island Forum (PIF) country representatives gathered in Fiji this week, for the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM), where issues affecting the region were on the table for consideration.
On Monday, the Private Sector Dialogue (PSD) workshop opened a series of meetings in Suva.
Representing the New Zealand private sector at the PSD was Chief Executive Officer for Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) Laulu Mac Leauanae and Tradestaff New Zealand General Manager of Global Operations Paul Pledge.
Pacific private sector representatives then met with Forum Economic Officials on Tuesday to discuss key thematic areas relating to Financing for Development Solutions, Mac says.
“The issues focused on at the PSD workshop included: incentives for business growth; improving business mobility through a Pacific business travel cared similar to the APEC business card; and better linkages with Asia,” the CEO adds.
Due to his background and expertise in recruitment, Paul contributed a great deal to the labour mobility discussion; while together the pair shared their knowledge and thoughts on incentives for business growth and accessing finance.
“We talked about crowd/source funding as a new possible funding avenue in the Pacific, as small businesses often find it difficult to access bank loans,” Mac adds.
Officials acknowledged the progression of the on-going labour mobility initiatives and the harmonisation of business practices, and support of a steering group, while it has been noted a data “one stop shop” would be beneficial for the ease of doing business in Forum Island Countries (FIC).
The business travel card was discussed and encouraged to facilitate ease of travel; and officials recognised the importance of the informal economy, and women and youth development in promoting sustainable economic development in the region.
Private sector partnerships were acknowledged, and it was noted mutual relationships would benefit both governments and the private sector.
PIF members were requested to strengthen means of ensuring food security and dealing with Non-Communicable Diseases, particularly the establishment of stringent border and biosecurity control.
Officials also discussed practical options for greater engagement with Asia, in particular with China.
Together with the private sector and civil society organisations, officials have noted and acknowledged China as a key market and development partner of the Pacific, and highlighted that consideration must also be given to other countries in the Asian region, including ASEAN.
Engagement with China also creates opportunities for economic growth in FIC sectors, such as tourism.
Officials also noted the development of a regional framework, as suggested in the recommendations, would allow for strategic engagement between the region and China.
The Pacific Trade and Invest Office in Beijing has been requested to assist PIF members in their engagement with China.
After being collated, outcomes from the PSD were then delivered at the Joint Dialogue on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Samoa will host the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting from September 4-8, 2017.
In preparation for the 48th Forum Leaders Meeting, the Forum Officials Committee Meeting, the governing council of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, will meet in Suva on August 8 and 9 preceded by the Smaller Island States Officials Meeting and the Pacific ACP Officials Meeting on August 7, 2017.
A meeting of the Forum Foreign Ministers will also be on August 11, 2017 in Suva.
The schedule for the 48th Pacific Islands Forum and related meetings to be held in Apia, Samoa will be as follows:
Monday, September 4
Smaller Islands States Leaders Meeting
Tuesday, September 5
Pacific ACP Leaders Meeting
Tuesday, September 5
Official Opening of the 48th Pacific Islands Forum
Wednesday, September 6
Forum Leaders Dialogue with Civil Society Organisations and Private Sector
Thursday, September 7
48th Pacific Islands Forum Plenary Sessions with Associate Member and Forum Observers and Post Forum Dialogue Partners
Friday, September 8
Forum Leaders Retreat
(Main picture caption: PSD Workshop in Suva.)