APEC economies urged to prioritise Pacific region

Lima, Peru

Climate Change, Oceans and Connectivity are three key issues in the Pacific region that need attention, was the message delivered in a Pacific Island Forum (PIF) speech to worldwide leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial meeting in Lima, Peru, on 17-18 November.

Mr Shiu Raj, PIF Director Policy – Economic Governance, called for APEC economies to support prioritising these key issues in the region.

“Over time, APEC initiatives have grown significantly in numbers and ambition. It is therefore important that we prioritise efforts towards issues that require urgent attention now.”

The PIF Director’s speech to APEC leaders reiterated the threat climate change poses to Pacific Islands; the sustainable development, management and conservation of its oceans and resources; and to consider including the Pacific Islands in a future connection network between Asia and the Americas under APEC’s Connectivity Blueprint.

APEC economies were urged to ratify the Paris Agreement if they had not done so. PIF member countries however are already making progress with frameworks in place to work through climate change challenges, including a coordinated action on a number of key issues related to climate change and disaster risk management.

PIF have also implemented the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG14) leading the way in managing and conserving the Pacific Ocean and its resources. Mr Raj called on APEC economies to join in.

With regards to connectivity, Mr Raj said that PIF has accepted new members, New Caledonia and French Polynesia, growing to 18 member countries in total.

He added that the new member countries provide more opportunities for trade and investment but because of the small size and vast distance of Pacific Island countries, they are disconnected from many markets. However he said trade in goods and services were broadening in the Pacific region and that tourism was on the rise.

“With the growth in the tourism sector, there is increasing demand for effective transport solutions which provides immense investment opportunities for APEC economies to venture into maritime and air transport, including ancillary services to support the growth of the tourism sector in the Pacific.”

In addition, Mr Raj said the information, communications and technology (ICT) sector “provides significant opportunities for APEC economies to invest in the Pacific, including in Professional Business Services”.

Mr Raj commended APEC on its efforts on the Enhancement of Regional Food Market in the Pacific stating many micro, small and medium enterprises were seeking innovative partners to grow their businesses.

He concluded his speech by encouraging APEC countries to form a reinvigorated partnership with the Pacific Islands for a more prosperous Pacific region.

The next APEC meeting will be held in 2018 in Papua New Guinea.

PIF currently has observer status at APEC meetings.

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