French Polynesia and Cook Islands to expand co-operation

0
1423

Cook Islands Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Mark Brown has met with his counterpart Edouard Fritch, President of French Polynesia to discuss expansion of bilateral co-operation in air links, ICT, trade and investment, labour mobility, health, culture and people to people ties.

“I’m very pleased with the outcomes of my discussions with President Fritch as well as members of his Council of Ministers, in particular Yvonnick Raffin, Minister of Finance and Economy,” said Prime Minister Brown.

“My exchange with Minister Raffin on expanded airlinks between the Cook Islands and French Polynesia, as well as the Cook Islands and North America/Europe transitting Tahiti included valuable contributions from key stakeholders the likes of Managing Director of Air Rarotonga Ewan Smith, President of Air Tahiti Nui (ATN) Michel Monvoisin and ATNs Chief Executive Officer Mathieu Bechonnet. With the full support of both governments, I’m confident both airlines will be able to confirm arrangements for expanded air services within the coming weeks.”

In a further meeting hosted by Minister Raffin, the Prime Minister also met with Thomas Lefevre-Segard and Jean Christophe Bongi, senior executives of Office de Postes et Telecommunications (OPT) and ONATI, the French Polynesia telecoms operator of the “One Polynesia” Manatua Cable. Also in attendance was recently appointed Avaroa Cable Ltd (ACL) Chief Executive Officer Mike Schwarz.

“The telecoms discussions were necessary to re-connecting in person after two and a half years being restricted to digital communications and I expect closer co-operation between OPT/Onati and ACL in the months ahead which will in turn speed up our digital transformation that is critical for our economic recovery and economy diversification.”

“French Polynesia is geographically, our closest partner. Coupled with our strong history of close cooperation politically, economically and culturally with extensive family ties between our people’s, this recent undertaking to Tahiti was critical to advance our shared aspirations for expanded cooperation between our two countries which will benefit both our economies and our peoples,” said Prime Minister Brown.

“I’m delighted we’re now able to resume talks with French Polynesia on expanded bilateral and regional cooperation which had to be put aside over the last 2 years as we focused on COVID response. The global economic impact of COVID has pushed to the fore extensive beneficial opportunities for both our countries from expanded airlinks, trade and investment and labour mobility between us and we look forward to working closely with the Government and people of French Polynesia in the months ahead to bring those to fruition.”

MFAI officials have been tasked to develop a Cook Islands/French Polynesia cooperation strategy, in consultation with domestic stakeholders and their French Polynesian counterparts for Cabinet consideration within the coming months.

The Prime Minister was supported by Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Tepaeru Herrmann and Foreign Service Officer Tatryanna Utanga.

SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS GOVT/PACNEWS