A milestone in regional cooperation was achieved on Monday with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), represented by Deputy Secretary General, Esala Nayasi and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) represented by Secretary General, Dr Kao Kim Hourn.

The signing ceremony took place in the margins of the 43rd ASEAN Summit, hosted by current ASEAN Chair, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia.

Prime Minister of the Cook Islands and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Mark Brown in his remarks at the signing noted the value of partnership and cooperation, particularly in a post-pandemic world and highlighted the importance of globalization, knowledge-sharing and the value of relationships in a fluid and evolving geostrategic landscape.

“Indeed, if there is one key thing that we have learnt as a result of the pandemic, it is that we cannot underscore enough the importance of partnerships and international cooperation”.

Prime Minister Brown spoke on the theme for the upcoming 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting to convene in Rarotonga from 6-10 November, “Our Voices, Our Choices, Our Pacific Way: Promote, Partner, Prosper”, noting the shared vision to strengthen cooperation between the respective regions and reflected on the values and principles held by ASEAN and the PIF.

“We are committed to maintaining regional centrality, fostering partnerships, and working towards open, transparent, inclusive, and resilient regions. Indeed, it recognises the primacy of our respective regional mechanisms and encourages respect and adherence for regionally led, developed, and agreed priorities”.

The ASEAN-PIF MoU encapsulates a shared commitment to working together and highlights collaboration in a wide array of areas including maritime cooperation, sustainable development goals, people-to-people exchanges, disaster risk reduction and humanitarian assistance.

The ASEAN-PIF MoU signifies a significant step in regional cooperation, reinforcing bonds among nations dedicated to shared progress and prosperity.