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Pacific Forum Economic Ministers Meeting, Rotorua

Pacific Forum Economic Ministers Meeting, Rotorua

Progress toward economic reform and sustainable development will dominate the eighth annual Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM 2004) in Rotorua next week, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Michael Cullen said today.

Dr Cullen with chair the event, which will be held at the Millennium Hotel from 8 to 10 June. Marian Hobbs as Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Official Development Assistance) will lead the New Zealand delegation.

Economic Ministers and delegation heads from Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are expected to attend FEMM 2004.

“Pacific Finance and Economic Ministers have key leadership roles in developing the vision and strategies necessary for their countries to meet the governance, economic development and poverty reduction challenges in the region.

“The Pacific is the core geographic focus of New Zealand’s development assistance programme. FEMM 2004 will be an opportunity to discuss development assistance and a range of other economic issues in the region,” Dr Cullen said.

Important items on the agenda of FEMM 2004 include

Pre-FEMM 2004 ministerial discussion on public enterprise governance and management; Session 1: Key note address on institutional reform by Professor Ken Jackson of Auckland University (which will include two regional case studies); Session 2: Public sector economic governance (including a presentation from Transparency International on their regional assessment); and Session 3: Progressing economic reform and regional integration (including a discussion of the Pacific Plan announced by Pacific Leaders when they met in New Zealand on 6 April; and the Australian led Regional Transport Study).

The intention of the Pacific Plan is to provide clear recommendations to Pacific Leaders on a sequence and priorities for intensified regional cooperation. The plan aims to identify the sectors and shared concerns where the region might make the most useful gains from sharing governance resources and aligning policies.

The Australian sponsored Regional Transport Study aims to identify options to improve air and sea services in the region.

The institutional reform session of the meeting will also include a ministerial discussion of the FEMM 2004 Stocktake. The Stocktake, which is biennial, is a survey of past FEMM decisions and national progress in implementing them.

There will also be a session between Ministers and private sector representatives. The private sector will present their views on the FEMM agenda. One issue expected to be raised is recent World Bank research on the cost of doing business in the Pacific.

FEMM ministers plan to discuss trade agreements in the region.

Each of the four meeting sessions will be aimed at finalising one section of the report to Pacific Leaders, with the proposed title of Forum Economic Action Plan 2004. This Action Plan will also be the public announcement of agreements on further actions.

FEMM ministers will be joined by a number of observers, including representatives from the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and regional organisations. The meetings are organised by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Suva, Fiji.

The New Zealand senior official at FEMM 2004 will be John Whitehead, Secretary to the Treasury.

Since 1997, the annual FEMM meetings have been an opportunity for Finance Ministers to focus on the economic challenges facing the Pacific that are open to influence. FEMM 2003 was held in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Other Events

The FEMM is held on Wednesday 9 June and Thursday 10 June 2004. Other events include:

7 – 8 June Private-sector Dialogue: Discussion by private-sector representatives on the topics being considered by at the FEMM.

8 June Ministerial Discussion

11 June Pacific Island Country Partners’ Meeting: A co-ordination meeting with development partners.

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