Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka Monday called for stronger international partnerships for a collective path towards a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable global economy.

He conveyed these sentiments while opening the two-day International Monetary Fund (IMF) High-Level Pacific Islands Conference, held in Nadi.

In his remarks, the Prime Minister highlighted the need to address economic and development challenges, and the collective pursuit of peace in the Pacific.

PM Rabuka expressed his gratitude to IMF Deputy Managing Director Dr Bo Li and the IMF for their role in promoting international prosperity through monetary regulation, trade encouragement, job creation, and economic development.

With the theme: Charting the Course Towards Shared Prosperity, the two-day conference brings together representatives from 15 member states, and partner countries and organisations for an opportunity to further discuss climate financing, global economic challenges, protecting and growing the blue economy, digital money and IMF’s engagement with the Pacific.

“The IMF promotes international prosperity by regulating monetary arrangements, encouraging trade and the creation of jobs, expanding economic activity and improving living standards,” said PM Rabuka.

“The Fund is not a development financing agency; it gives practical policy help and technical assistance to its member countries including those in our Pacific. When nations experience severe financial difficulties, the IMF assists them with funding to return to stability and progress, so a big vinaka to Dr Li, his executives and staff of IMF.”

Prime Minister Rabuka took the opportunity to outline his vision for the region’s future, centered around the concept of the “Ocean of Peace.”

“As foundational rules for the peace mission, the island countries would avoid actions that might jeopardize order and stability and commit to a mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he highlighted.

“I see a region free of militarisation, with a careful definition of what that means. It would, however, be consistent with the UN Charter, multilateralism and the principles of collective action. Right now, in this period of danger, we need more finance and investment to advance peace rather than war.

“Prosperity is what we seek but it must go hand-in-hand with peace. It’s not possible to attain national progress and fulfillment amid the depredations of war, or the simmering possibility of it.”

Acknowledging the importance of the Pacific region in the current geopolitical tensions, Prime Minister Rabuka stressed the need for unity among the Pacific Islands in the midst of rivalry between major powers.
He shared that the vision of the Ocean of Peace was presented to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders, receiving initial approval, with further discussions planned for the upcoming PIF Leaders annual meeting in Tonga.

Prime Minister Rabuka concluded his speech by calling for support from the international community, urging leaders to use their influence to spread the message of the Ocean of Peace and contribute to the region’s deeper integration, rejecting conflict, and fostering a new way of living.

“Many of you present here possess great power and influence. I respectfully request that when you return home, use your authority to spread our ocean of peace message. We look forward to your continuing support for our push for deeper integration, rejection of conflict and creation of a new way of living.”

Meanwhile, members of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the Pacific Islands High-Level Conference have been urged to remain firm in their commitment to serving the interests of Pacific communities.

At a dinner hosted by the Pacific Islands Financial Technical Assistance Centre, Minister for Finance Biman Prasad underscored the importance of prioritising capacity-building initiatives to empower and uplift the region.

DPM Prasad highlighted the importance of the conference’s agenda, which looked into critical themes including “Protecting the Growing Blue Pacific,” “Migration: Maximising Benefits while Minimising Costs,” and “Digital Money in the Pacific Islands: Exploring Opportunities and Risks.”

He also congratulated PFTAC on commemorating 30 years of service in Fiji recognising it as an initiative implemented by the IMF to provide technical assistance and strengthen capacity-building efforts across 16 Island nations in the Pacific.

“We talked about immigration today, we talked about diaspora. We talked about the return of skills to the region, from our people who left the Pacific have gone on there and have developed themselves with the cutting-edge knowledge and understanding of the issues.”

“I would say to PFTAC looking into the future and reassessing the whole idea of capacity building, what does capacity building mean then, in terms of what we’ve got and how we can engage the experiences of Pacific people,” said Prasad.