“One of the most important things the Pacific island states accomplished last year was the unity of forum,” said Toke Talagi, Premier of Niue and outgoing chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).
Despite of the Fiji issue, Toke Talagi said he is glad to see the Pacific island states have successfully achieved unity during his tenure as chair of the forum.
Talagi said, “I hope this year’s forum will make important decisions with the respect of climate change and economic development among island nations.”
He expected that those decisions will “ensure the capacity to better develop resources that smaller island nations enjoy, such as fishery [and] tourism so as to secure employment and wealth of the islands people.”
Talagi hopes what the forum has done with full participation of island nations would be sustainable in the longer term.
In the opening speech of 40th PIF, Talagi said that the onset of the global financial crisis, imposed on the region a new challenge to their governments and peoples.
“This is a crisis with potentially devastating implications for our national and regional prosperity,” Talagi said. “Already the fundamentals of our economies, including national abilities for revenue generation, have been affected. Falling remittances and weakened export demand have affected the performance of our external sectors, while within local economies, low production in the real sector has forced many job loses.”
It makes it worse that our small geography and economic boundaries limit fiscal policy space, denying for many of us opportunities for implementing stimulus packages, he said.
Talagi passed over the chairmanship of PIF to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd after the official opening of the 40th forum on Wednesday.
The 40th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) opened on Wednesday with 15 heads of government and more than 450 delegates present in the regional conference.
The forum is an inter-governmental organization, which aims to enhance cooperation between the independent countries of the Pacific Ocean and represent their interests. It was founded in 1971 as the South Pacific Forum and changed to Pacific Islands Forum in 2000.
The Forum’s member states include Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Since 2006, associate-member territories are New Caledonia and French Polynesia.