Trade Ministers and officials from Forum member countries gather in Suva today for the Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers Meeting.

Key priorities for deliberation on the agenda today, include dialogue on the current Regional Trade and Investment Landscape following the effects of Covid-19 and other global events and making connections to the changing global trade and investment landscape.

The implementation plan for the 2050 Strategy is also a key part of discussions together with key regional initiatives such as the Regional Labour Mobility Strategy.

“We have the resources. We have the people.

The onus is on us to ensure that we can create a conducive and enabling environment to build and nurture these resources to inspire transformational and sustainable development for our people.” said Secretary General, Henry Puna at the opening of the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting(FTMM).

Puna said the Ministers have the valuable opportunity to discuss “how we can position ourselves as a region, in the face of a fast-evolving global landscape”.

“In the wake of a global pandemic, and on the cusp of a destablising war between Ukraine and Russia, we, as a region, find ourselves at the mercy of erratic market fluctuations.

It is in circumstances such as this, that we must hold strong to our collective vision and efforts, to ensure that we can capitalise on the opportunities that emerge and share the challenges that we need to overcome,” he said.

Puna said the world in which they operate today has vastly evolved from that in which they existed a mere five years ago.

“The criticality of trade and investment in delivering growth, development and sustainable outcomes cannot be emphasised enough.

“It is increasingly clear that if we are to truly control and determine our development trajectory as a region, we will need to prioritise investment in our efforts to capitalise on economic opportunities, collectively.

“We witness the intensifying nature of climate change.

“We contend with the increased complexity of geostrategic interests in the region,” he said.

Are our trade policies responsive to the changing global trade and investment landscape?, SG Puna asked.

“What more can we do to ensure that trade development responds to emerging challenges such as climate change, geopolitical tension, disruptive technologies?

“Does the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and its implementation plan effectively respond to the emerging challenges that we see in global and regional trade?

“Is your Secretariat playing an adequate role to improve complementarity and synergies across all agencies providing support to members in the area of trade? How can we strengthen our support to Members?

SG Puna also encouraged Ministers to be frank and constructive in their deliberations today “as it is your decisions today, that will set the trajectory and work plan for regional trade over the next two years”.

This is the final Forum Standing meeting of the year before Forum Leaders meet in Cook Islands.