Forum Chair and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown says the two days Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) that began today will provide them with a valuable platform to collaborate, share experiences, and develop strategies that will foster inclusive sustainable economic growth in the region.

In his remarks at the opening plenary for the FEMM2023, Brown said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt scarred all ‘our’ small island economies.

“This is now coupled by the war in Ukraine and its flow-on impacts on energy and food prices. It is no surprise therefore, that the International Monetary Fund projects global growth to slow to 2.8 per cent in 2023 from 3.4 per cent in 2022. Notwithstanding these uncertain headwinds, most Governments in the region have taken financial, fiscal and monetary policy actions to cushion their domestic economies.

“As a region, we can rise above these challenges by working together from our position of strength – as a collective. We are resilient, resourceful, and united in our determination to overcome these challenges and build a brighter future for our Pacific people.

“This meeting provides us with a valuable platform to collaborate, share experiences, and develop strategies that will foster inclusive sustainable economic growth, enhance trade and investment, to improve the livelihoods of our Pacific people. We must ensure every effort is made to maintain our position of strength while also recognising the sovereignty of each Member of the Forum,” Brown told Pacific Economic Ministers in Suva.

The Forum Chair said as Ministers consider and deliberate on key economic issues facing the region over the next two days, he reminded them not to forget the importance of inclusivity.

“We must ensure that the well-being of all Pacific people are improved through equitable distribution of wealth and sustained economic growth.

“Many of these economic issues are not new to you all. In fact, some of these issues predate us back to our founding fathers’ vision and recognition of the value of economic cooperation, trade, tourism, and transportation amongst newly formed independent and self-governing states in the Pacific. However, the situation has changed and there is an urgent need for us to relook at how we have been handling these issues.

“Business as usual is unacceptable.

“As a collective, we represent a diverse range of economies, each with its unique strengths, opportunities, and aspirations. As we begin our discussion today, let us approach our discussion with open minds, embracing diverse perspectives, and engaging constructively. We have the opportunity to learn from one another, to share best practices, and to forge partnerships that will pave the way for inclusive and sustainable growth,” he explained.

PM Brown said it is also fitting that the theme for this meeting is “Our Pacific Way – Prosperity for All”.

“It speaks to and recognises the uniqueness of “our Pacific Way” of doing things that are mutually respectful, inclusive, consultative and allows for compromises,” he said.