South Pacific a region in recovery; challenges not ‘insurmountable’

Pacific Islands Forum Deputy Secretary General Esala Nayasi addresses delegates at the ACP Trade Officials meeting in Suva. Picture: PIFS/FILE

The South Pacific region is one in recovery in the wake of a global pandemic.

It continues to grapple with the impact of the Ukraine-Russia war – a conflict with no visible end in sight – and with repercussions across the world, including through higher food and energy prices.

At present, the region continues to contend with a climate emergency that has taken its toll on all sectors of our economies.

These were the remarks of Pacific Islands Forum Deputy Secretary General Esala Nayasi when he addressed delegates at the ACP Trade Officials meeting in Suva yesterday, and he empowered them that while the challenges were wide-ranging and complex, “they are not insurmountable”.

“What it will require of us is stronger coordination and coherence so that we can effectively capitalise on opportunities for economies of scale and develop regional value chains, where possible, so that we strengthen our export base towards higher value-added products from the region,” Mr Nayasi said.

He says the very foundation of the Pacific Islands Forum is economic cooperation, which its founding fathers had recognised.

“Fundamental to this very principle is our ability to trade – amongst ourselves and with external partners,” Mr Nayasi said.

“To unlock the potential of trade and development, we need to address supply side constraints, reduce trade facilitation bottlenecks and building efficient and resilient supply chains.

“In an increasingly interconnected world, our unilateral success as individual nations is no longer viable.

“We must build on each other’s strengths to create trade and economic opportunities and open new and unexplored trading markets.”

Mr Nayasi said the ACP Trade Officials meeting was a unique forum – “as Pacific ACP countries, you have the flexibility and the opportunity to discuss frankly and openly your collective ambitions as island countries”.

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