The Pacific ACP Trade Officials meeting began today in Suva.

The meeting brings together Pacific members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) to discuss sustainable development issues as well as cooperation and engagement with the European Union.

Discussions include Regional Trade and Investment Landscape, regional trade agreements and trade opportunities with the U.S and other trading partners.

While opening the Pacific ACP Trade Officials Meeting (PACPTOM) in Suva, Cook Islands High Commissioner to Fiji, Jim Armistead said trade is an essential catalyst for achieving greater regional economic integration through harmonisation of our trade-related systems, processes and regulations and freer movement of goods and services across borders.

“While in the past this meeting has been predominantly occupied with EU-Pacific trade partnership and for good reason, it is heartening to see relations with other emerging and non-traditional markets being considered as well, especially as a means to support economic recovery efforts following COVID-19.

“We have a very detailed Agenda before us, and our duty now is to consider these issues and recommend the best way forward to our Ministers and indeed the Pacific region to pursue our trade development aspirations through trust and confidence in the collective wisdom of this meeting,” the Chair of PACPTOM said.

Amistead told the region trade officials the Forum Leaders Meeting from 06 – 10 November, the Cook Islands will submit for consideration of Forum Leaders the ‘Pacific Partnership for Prosperity (PPfP)’ that has nine initiatives.

“Key among those nine initiatives is the development of the Regional Framework on Climate Mobility which has been championed by Tuvalu and Fiji and balancing this with the Pacific Labour Mobility Framework.The PPfP represents existing and new initiatives that have transformative potential by attracting new funding, investment and partnerships to benefit our Pacific Communities.

“It is my hope that the discussions we have today at the PACPTOM will be situated and connected to the broader policy framework and decisions of our Leaders in relation to these pieces of work,” he said.

The theme of this year’s Forum Leaders meeting is “Our Voices, Our Choices; Our Pacific Way: Promote, Partner, Prosper”.

The theme is also aligned to the vision of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent that Pacific Leaders have articulated.

“As you are aware, the Implementation Plan for the 2050 Strategy is being finalised and will be endorsed by Leaders during their convening.

Cook Islands looks forward to welcoming all of you to our beautiful shores very soon,” he said.