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Call to accelerate regional integration

Fiji Times, Fiji

Call to accelerate regional integration

By Elenoa Baselala

28 July 2012

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat secretary general, Tuiloma Neroni Slade wants the region to intensify and accelerate its efforts towards regional integration.

"As we seek to further engage with Europe in the context of the Economic Partnership Agreement, our efforts towards regional integration should be intensified and accelerated," Mr Slade said at the inaugural Pacific ACP officials’ meeting at the secretariat in Suva yesterday.

At its meeting last year, the Pacific ACP leaders had stressed the need for a Pacific ACP Officials’ Meeting prior to their annual meeting.

A PIFS statement said the one day meeting covered a range of subjects including the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme under the European Development Fund (EDF), progress of the Pacific region’s negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, the progress report on the implementation of the Pacific Island Countries’ Trade Agreement (PICTA), and the conclusion of the PICTA trade in services negotiations.

There were also discussions on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus negotiations, the Pacific Trade and Development Facility and the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy.

"The Pacific region has an important relationship with the European Union (EU), which has been forged through historical links over time.

Under the EU-ACP framework, Pacific ACP States have benefited from a number of substantial financial programmes and technical assistance provided through the European Commission (EC) and the EU Member States," Mr Slade said.