Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Monday delivered his first statement at the U.S-Pacific Islands Summit held in Washington, marking the first day of this pivotal two-day summit.

Prime Minister Rabuka emphasised the importance of trust, solidarity, and adherence to multilateralism and the rules-based order.

“This Summit is timely because we need to further enhance trust and solidarity among ourselves for multilateralism and the rules-based order to prevail,” Prime Minister Rabuka said.

He articulated Fiji’s commitment to the ‘New Agenda for Peace’ and underscored the significance of the Pacific as a ‘Zone of Peace.’

“May I suggest that the Pacific ‘Zone of Peace’ should be built on these fundamental pillars: Recognising the need for mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence; the need for a robust ‘Dispute Resolution Mechanism’; a clear ‘Arms Control and Non-Proliferation’ arrangement; a well-articulated framework for environmental conservation in the spirit of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific; and the need to enhance and nurture ‘Regional Cooperation’ in encouraging nations to collaborate on areas of common interest.”

Prime Minister Rabuka also addressed the pressing challenges faced by the Pacific region, including the consequences of the war of aggression in Ukraine, which has resulted in supply chain disruptions, threats to food security, and unpredictable inflationary pressures due to over-dependence on imports such as petroleum products.

He emphasised the urgent need for a rule-making system that safeguards common interests and minimizes risk and mistrust, particularly in the current unpredictable global environment.

Prime Minister Rabuka further highlighted the importance of strengthening partnerships among nations and called for the finalisation of the “Memorandum of Commercial Cooperation,” which he noted would benefit all parties involved.

He also expressed Fiji’s willingness to explore preferential market access arrangements and appealed to the U.S to reconsider the re-authorisation of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Scheme.

The Prime Minister affirmed Fiji’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) and its focus on empowering women and girls in emerging country partners.

He stressed that multilateralism and the rules-based international order are essential for addressing interconnected crises and challenges and for mobilising financial resources, trade, and investment to support sustainable economic growth.

Prime Minister Rabuka concluded by emphasising the win-win outlook and a brighter future that can be achieved through cooperation and hard work.

“It is indeed an honour for me to address this Summit, having assumed office nine months ago in December 2022,” he said.