Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Remarks at the launch of the Beijing Horticulture Expo 2019

delivered by Mr Shiu Raj, Director Policy – Economic Governance
Holiday Inn, Suva, 28 July 2017

H.E. Zhang Ping, PRC Ambassador to Fiji;

Excellences, Members of the Diplomatic Corps based in Suva;

Mr Wang Janzen, Vice Chairman (CCPIT), and Commissioner General Expo 2019 Beijing;

Mr Jiao Young, Director Expo 2019 Beijing;

Members of the private sector, ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of the PIFS Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor, I extend to you all a very warm Bulla, and thank you all for accepting our invitation to this Briefing Event on the Beijing Horticulture Expo 2019. The Forum Secretariat is pleased to be associated with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, through our Beijing office of the Pacific Islands Trade and Invest network which has a presence in Japan, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, in addition to China.

Our Leaders have acknowledged the importance of expanding trade and investment within the region and beyond, with a particular emphasis on the need for the Pacific region to become proactive in building linkages with Asia. The event tonight is an element of that broader effort, in particular towards a strengthened Pacific Islands-China relationship. The Beijing Expo is expected to contribute towards a mutual south-south cooperation, and exchange of shared values and experiences. It will create a platform for the Pacific region to showcase what it has to offer to the world. We have done so before at the Shanghai Expo.

Excellences, in 2015 Forum Trade and Economic Ministers called for national and regional level efforts focusing on practical strategies to harness opportunities arising from the growth in Asia.  The PT&I China and Japan offices have been fundamental in facilitating Business-to-Business engagements between the Pacific Island Countries and Asian markets. At their meeting in April 2017, Forum Economic Ministers acknowledged that strengthened engagement with Asian economies (China in particular) could unlock new and additional opportunities for Pacific Island Countries’ economic growth and development.

Existing data supports the economic Ministers’ observation. For instance, Trade, investment and tourism between China and the Pacific Island Countries has grown significantly in recent years.

  • In 2016, PICs-China Bilateral merchandise trade was valued at US$7.5 billion (While PIC exports were mostly commodities such as timber, nickel and fish, there are new emerging products).
  • In the same year, more than 140,000 Chinese tourists visited the Pacific Islands region. Such tourist bulge provides strong potential to attract investment in infrastructure and services to support niche, sustainable and high value tourism growth from China.

However, sustaining outcomes of, and guiding the Pacific Islands-China interactions, requires a robust framework arrangement that ensures that the efforts focus on sustainable development, as highlighted by the Forum Economic Ministers at their meeting in April 2017. The Secretariat is currently working on a range of efforts to ensure that a well consulted and comprehensive framework for Asia-Pacific engagement is formulated.

The offer by the CCPIT to support the Pacific islands as outlined by previous speakers is very welcoming. I am pleased to inform you that earlier today, the Secretariat signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the CCPIT for a joint commitment to assist the PICs.  The MOU signed today starts a new era of: CCPIT-Pacific Island Countries (through the Forum Secretariat) cooperation in a wide range of areas, including trade and investment promotion. The Forum Secretariat is excited about the opportunities the CCPIT-PIFS MOU offers. We anticipate promising outcomes, which will support economic development through creation of new jobs and supporting new opportunities in the Pacific Island Countries. The strong cooperation between the PT&I and CCPITs, is expected to deliver multiple trade and investment match making missions to, and from China.

Our partnership with CCPIT has already started to offer results. With much appreciation, I would like to inform you that CCPIT has provided space to promote the Pacific Island Countries at the 2019 Beijing Horticulture Expo. The Beijing Expo will provide a good opportunity to promote: tourism niche agricultural, health and beauty products from the Pacific Islands to Chinese buyers, consumers and media.  PIFS will consult with national governments, private sector and other stakeholders on how best to take up this opportunity to encourage Pacific Island business’ participation. 

On behalf our Members, may I take this opportunity to thank the Peoples’ Republic of China and the CCPIT Leadership for its efforts to assist PT&I China in business matching to support economic development in the Pacific Islands. With the support of CCPIT, I am sure, the 2019 Expo will be valuable and high-profile platform for investment business matching, to demonstrate investment projects and to attract Chinese investments into adding value to Pacific products-especially: agricultural, and fisheries products.

A very warm welcome again to our guests. 

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