MFAT Briefing Summary: Pacific Islands Forum, Auckland 4-9 September 2011
By Mark P. Williams
1 Sept 2011
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade (MFAT) Pre-Briefing* on the Forthcoming
Pacific Islands Forum (Auckland, Sun 4 Sept – Fri 9 Sept
Briefing held in offices of MFAT - Wellington
* There will be another briefing in Auckland on Monday. The following information is sourced to "Senior MFAT officials".
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade emphasises that the forthcoming Pacific Islands Forum will be a particularly significant one for a number of reasons. Coinciding as it does with the Rugby World Cup it will be the largest international meeting hosted since the APEC annual forum of 1999. It also marks the 40th Anniversary of the Pacific Islands Forum with a return to New Zealand since the first forum in Wellington in 1971.
This forum will also be exceptional for several other reasons:
- Although the French Foreign Ministry are routinely present at the PIF, this year their presences will be substantially more significant, with attendance by the French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe;
- similarly, although the UN is also commonly present, this year will include the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon;
- in addition, the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barosso, will be in attendance;
- and the United States has also substantially increased the size of its delegation.
For these reasons this Pacific Island Forum will be an opportunity to improve co-ordination with all regional partners.
There will also be a set of ancillary meetings including meetings between the EU and Pacific Island Members, and the Small Island States, which will focus on their particular concerns.
The structure of the Forum is forecast to be as follows (but may be subject to change):
1) Media briefing — Sky City
2) Formal Opening of Pacific Sector Showcase — The Cloud
1) Pacific Investment Summit — The Cloud
2) Traditional Welcome (powhiri) for leaders — Auckland Museum
1) Opening Ceremony — The Cloud
2) Forum Plenary — Sky City
3) Private Sector Dialogue — Sky City
4) New Zealand Prime Minister/Forum Chair joint press conference with UN Secretary General
5) NZPM/Forum Chair joint stand up with the EC President
1) Leaders Retreat — Waiheke Island
2) NZPM/Forum Chair Press Conference
1) Post-Forum Dialogue — Sky City
2) Foreign Ministers’ joint media briefing
3) NZPM press conference
[Details and times remain subject to possible change]
The key outcomes of the week’s discussions will be published in the Leaders’ communiqué issued after the Leaders’ Retreat on the Thursday.
Particular points of discussion for the Leaders’ Retreat will be developments in French Polynesia and a discussion concerning Fiji and the forum position on Fiji’s continued suspension.
Certain elements will
remain consistent with previous years:
- sending clear messages on climate change;
- on trade co-operation;
- on fishing and economic policymaking, and;
- on international issues such as Australia and New Zealand’s bids for the Security Council.
This Year’s Themes
As the host of the forum, New Zealand has specific things they wish to focus attention on:
Celebration of the anniversary of the forum; an opportunity to think about where it started and its future direction to maintain its position as a useful vehicle for economic development. .
 An opportunity to improve co-ordination between the many countries who provide financial and economic support within the region.
 The greater role to be given to the private sector in advancing economic development in the region; one of the messages that New Zealand intends to bring is that: although the Pacific has many challenges - such as dispersed population, environment, resource constraints and distance from markets - it also has abundant potential as a tourist destination and it is home to perhaps the last great fish stock in the world.
The principal theme envisaged for the Forum is of converting potential into prosperity.
Other Highlighted Events
There will be meetings between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the EC President Jose Manuel Borosso in dedicated sessions with the leaders to address their specific shared concerns.
They will hear back from the leaders regarding the direction and priorities that the PIF countries would like the UN and EU to take within the region. It is expected that climate change and economic investment will be significant points of these dialogues.
Interactive Dialogue with the UN Secretary General — Wed
2) Address to PIF Leaders by special guest EC President Barroso — Wed 3:15pm-3:40pm
Both the EU and US have signaled by their increased presences that they will bring new initiatives for the forum this year.