Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Ministers Meet in Honiara for 10th FEMM

FSMPIO Special
Francky Ilai
July 7, 2006

Honiara, SOLOMON ISLANDS (FSM Information Service): July 12, 2006 - The 10th Forum Economic Ministers Meeting began on Monday - July 3 2006, with economic ministers from 16 Forum member countries in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.

This year's theme reads, "Economic Growth: Lessons Learnt from the Last Ten Years and Challenges and Opportunities Ahead." As such, it allowed the gathered ministers an opportunity to review the past decade's economic trends. In addition, the meeting provided the platform needed for the ministers to focus on regional economic integrations and ways to improve Pacific labor markets.

The Federated States of Micronesia delegation was headed by Roger S. Mori, Assistant Secretary of the Division of Economic Planning & Statistics at the FSM Department of Economic Affairs. Accompanying Assistant Secretary Mori as FSM's representative on the officials committee was Valerio Hallens, also from the same Department and under the Office of Registrar of Corporations.

Assistant Secretary Mori stated that "the gathering of ministers of different countries is particularly significant because it allows members an opportunity to learn from each other."

An opportunity that Mori stressed provided the economic scale needed for each Pacific island nation to gauge its own development and measure its progress against the regional development.

On Monday, the participating island countries held an informal discussion session among delegates and the FEMM Officials Preparatory Meeting where the Ministers shared their thoughts on the topic of "Advancing the Implementation of Regional Economic Integration".

The delegates also heard presentations on key regional economic integration issues arising out of the Pacific Plan as well as those identified by FEMM 2005.

The Pacific Plan is the result of the Auckland Declaration of 2004 through which the Forum Leaders adopted a vision to strengthen regional cooperation and integration and to respond to many challenges facing Pacific Island countries. The official goal of the Pacific Plan is to "Enhance and stimulate economic growth, sustainable development, good governance and security for Pacific countries through regionalism".

During Tuesday's opening formalities, Deputy Security General of the Forum Secretariat, Iosefa Maiava, stressed that economic cooperation and integration is a necessity in the Pacific because of the smallness of the islands.

He said that "the economic realities facing the region in today's increased global markets makes it all the more necessary that we find the right forms of responses through better government."

Maivava continued that "regionalism is something that in order to work depends on national commitment and the implementations of regional decisions." He was pleased to note that many of island nations have already taken definitive efforts to adapt their structures and processes in response globalizations "recognising that globalization brings both opportunities and challenges.

"The collective regional response to these challenges, through the work of FEMM and the Pacific Plan seems to be one of the most effective ways of supporting those efforts," concluded Maiava.

Continuing, he stated "They are not intended to replace national policies and programs, or indeed to compromise sovereignty, but rather to support and complement them and to make them more effective."

To launch the FEMM 2006 Sessions, Dr. Satish Chand, an economist with the Crawford School of Economics & Government at the Australian National University presented his commissioned study on: "ECONOMIC GROWTH: LESSONS FROM THE LAST TEN YEARS, AND CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD".

The study detailed the growth performance of the pacific island nations along with the regional perspective of such growth. Dr. Chand encouraged each countries to take stock of its situation and "draw on the lessons learnt from the growth strategies of the last ten years, as well as take advantage of emerging opportunities, in order to propel economic growth."

Other session focused on regional economic integration as a means of supporting economic development, which followed up on the FEMM 2005 decisions regarding the potential of regional economic integration to enhance national outcomes.

Labor was among the issues identified in 2005 as requiring a policy environment supportive of economic integration. Presentations on national and regional actions aimed to promote the better functioning of labor markets in the Pacific region were heard.

It was decided that next year's FEMM would report back on the development and adoption of best practice models on financial regulation with a scoping study to be launched immediately in preparation for next year.

The last session of the meeting was another follow-up to FEMM 2005, which reviewed the "Cost of Doing Business in the Pacific Region." The session highlighted the experience of individual countries in policy implementation in regards to reducing the cost of doing business in the Pacific through regional means.

FEMM 2006 was attended by more than 100 delegates and media personnel from the 16-member Pacific Island Forum Countries.


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