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press:pacer_statement_to_ftmm [2009/07/09 04:23]
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press:pacer_statement_to_ftmm [2009/07/09 04:25] (current)
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I feel that we Pacific Ministers have a duty to explain exactly what it is that our countries will need to make this negotiation process successful.  I intend to offer a few brief thoughts, although I look forward to my colleagues adding more detail about the needs of their own particular countries.  As for Solomon Islands, my greatest concern is the possibility that we might not be able to involve the groups that will be affected by a PACER Plus agreement from the very start of the negotiating process.  I want every one of my countrymen that will have a stake in this agreement to have a say.  And I believe that this must happen before my country's position is finalised and important decisions are made.  But I am also aware of the limitations of my trade department.  They are understaffed and overworked, and I have seen the extra strain that PACER Plus discussions have placed on them over the last year.  But more than anything they are a very small team, and it is impossible for them to develop the detailed expertise in all of the specialised areas that we want to discuss in the context of PACER Plus.  This expertise will be vital to support national consultations.  Support will be needed to help stakeholders to understand these technical areas, and more importantly, how technical provisions of a trade agreement will affect them in practical terms.  I want to be clear that national consultations in Solomon Islands will be driven by my government, but we will require support from our OCTA.  And we will need staff to travel to Honiara throughout the negotiation process to provide the expertise that it makes no sense for us to develop in such a small department.  But we all know the state of transport links in the Pacific, and we know that regularly visiting the fourteen Pacific island countries is no small task.  For an OCTA to do this properly will require a substantial staff and a sizeable travel budget.  These needs have been carefully assessed by the Forum Secretariat, and Pacific Ministers believe that the budget that Pacific officials have prepared now reflects the minimum needs of our countries. I feel that we Pacific Ministers have a duty to explain exactly what it is that our countries will need to make this negotiation process successful.  I intend to offer a few brief thoughts, although I look forward to my colleagues adding more detail about the needs of their own particular countries.  As for Solomon Islands, my greatest concern is the possibility that we might not be able to involve the groups that will be affected by a PACER Plus agreement from the very start of the negotiating process.  I want every one of my countrymen that will have a stake in this agreement to have a say.  And I believe that this must happen before my country's position is finalised and important decisions are made.  But I am also aware of the limitations of my trade department.  They are understaffed and overworked, and I have seen the extra strain that PACER Plus discussions have placed on them over the last year.  But more than anything they are a very small team, and it is impossible for them to develop the detailed expertise in all of the specialised areas that we want to discuss in the context of PACER Plus.  This expertise will be vital to support national consultations.  Support will be needed to help stakeholders to understand these technical areas, and more importantly, how technical provisions of a trade agreement will affect them in practical terms.  I want to be clear that national consultations in Solomon Islands will be driven by my government, but we will require support from our OCTA.  And we will need staff to travel to Honiara throughout the negotiation process to provide the expertise that it makes no sense for us to develop in such a small department.  But we all know the state of transport links in the Pacific, and we know that regularly visiting the fourteen Pacific island countries is no small task.  For an OCTA to do this properly will require a substantial staff and a sizeable travel budget.  These needs have been carefully assessed by the Forum Secretariat, and Pacific Ministers believe that the budget that Pacific officials have prepared now reflects the minimum needs of our countries.
-Of course, I could not discuss the budget of the OCTA without acknowledging the generous offer made by Australia and New Zealand to provide more than one million Australian dollars per year to fund the OCTA's activities.  On behalf of all Pacific Ministers, I would like to express our deep gratitude not only for this proposal, but also for the understanding of our needs that it represents.  I would like to reassure my counterparts from Australia and New Zealand that Pacific Ministers fully understand that no country has unlimited resources, and that we do not expect your governments to contribute to the OCTA beyond your means.  However, we have to recognise that the minimum needs of Pacific island countries cannot be met within this budget.  It is for this reason that Pacific Ministers have agreed that funding of the OCTA must be kept open to all donors.  I am delighted to note that both TradeCom and the Commonwealth Secretariat have already indicated that they will consider contributing to the office.  I have every confidence that additional donors will be able to supplement the very important contribution that Australia and New Zealand are able to make to the OCTA.  And I believe that an open funding arrangement will allow donors to better coordinate their support to Pacific island countries, in accordance with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.+Of course, I could not discuss the budget of the OCTA without acknowledging the generous offer made by Australia and New Zealand to provide more than one million Australian dollars per year to fund the OCTA's activities.  On behalf of all Pacific Ministers, I would like to express our deep gratitude not only for this proposal, but also for the understanding of our needs that it represents.  I would like to reassure my counterparts from Australia and New Zealand that Pacific Ministers fully understand that no country has unlimited resources, and that we do not expect your governments to contribute to the OCTA beyond your means.  However, we have to recognise that the minimum needs of Pacific island countries cannot be met within this budget.  It is for this reason that Pacific Ministers have agreed that funding of the OCTA must be kept open to all donors.  I am delighted to note that both TradeCom and the Commonwealth Secretariat have already indicated that they will consider contributing to the office.  I have every confidence that additional donors will be able to supplement the very important contribution that Australia and New Zealand are able to make to the OCTA.  And I believe that an open funding arrangement will allow donors to better coordinate their support to Pacific island countries, in accordance with the //Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness//.
Mr Chairman, I have already taken enough of the meeting's time.  I look forward to an honest and positive exchange of views on each of these subjects, and I have every confidence that all Forum Members will be able to reach agreement on these matters before this meeting has ended. Mr Chairman, I have already taken enough of the meeting's time.  I look forward to an honest and positive exchange of views on each of these subjects, and I have every confidence that all Forum Members will be able to reach agreement on these matters before this meeting has ended.