The European Union Ambassador (EU) to the Pacific, Barbara Plinkert has described the upcoming signing of the Samoa Agreement in Apia next week as a milestone.

Addressing the Pacific ACP Leaders Meeting in Rarotonga Tuesday, Plinket said the agreement will include a specific Pacific-EU Protocol.

“We are just a few days away from a historic moment in Pacific-EU relations: the signing of the Samoa Agreement which will take our partnership to the next level.

“The European Union and the Pacific are long-standing friends and partners with shared interests and values. This is reflected again in the Samoa Agreement, and more specifically its Pacific Protocol, which is fully aligned with the Pacific Island Forum’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent,” Plinket told Pacific ACP leaders.

She said as geopolitical tensions and global challenges rise, their cooperation is ever more important, including in international fora.

“For example, our commitment and objectives are aligned when it comes to addressing the existential threat of climate change. We also firmly uphold the global rules-based order with the UN Charter at its core, as demonstrated by the Pacific solidarity in the condemnation of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“Through the European Union’s Global Gateway investment strategy, Team Europe supports the green transition in the Pacific. A Green Blue Alliance, streamlining EU and Member States’ funding, focuses on climate action and the sustainable use of the Pacific’s natural capital. In total, we are committing a minimum of 650 million euros for the region in support of Pacific priorities, said Ambassador Plinket.

Plinket said in the last five years, EU imports from Pacific ACP Countries have increased from 1.3 to 2.3 billion euros.

“The EU proudly guarantees full free access to the EU common market through the Economic Partnership Agreement.

I’m happy to hear that Tonga, Tuvalu and Niue have recently requested access to the EPA. This is great news, a signal of more cooperation and more opportunities for a better future,” she said.

She also said the implementation of bilateral Global Gateway Investment projects has also begun.

“For example, we are ready to support hydropower development in Fiji.

“In Kiribati, the EU is financing feasibility studies for the construction of a deep-sea, multi-purpose port on Christmas Island.

“And in Papua New Guinea, the European Investment Bank joins forces with our French colleagues to rehabilitate the Port of Rabaul. Going forward, we want to attract more private sector investment in support of the infrastructure needs in the Pacific,” she said.