28th South Pacific Forum Communiqué
PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service): September 21, 1997 - The 28th South Pacific Forum meeting under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Cook Islands Sir Jeffrey Henry, was held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, from September 17 to 19, 1997, issued a communique at the end of the meeting.
Heads of States and Governments and representatives of Australia, the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu were in attendance.
The Forum thanked the Government and people of the Cook Islands for their warm welcome and the generous hospitality provided to all delegations to the Forum and the arrangements made for the meeting.
The Forum expressed its deep regrets over the ultimate passing of the late Chairman of the Forum and paid tribute to the memory of the late President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and former Chairman of the Forum, His Excellency President Amata Kabua. Leaders thanked the Republic of the Marshall Islands for its continued leadership during the period of its Chairmanship.
Leaders thanked the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands for his presentation on the Forum Theme "Reform, Human Values and Togetherness" and discussed how reforms aimed at achieving sustainable development go beyond conventional economic dimensions to embrace the essentially holistic nature of the process, and took cognizance of the need for Pacific cultural values and norms to be the basic premise and foundation of this process.
On Economic Issues: The Forum applauded the outcome of the first Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) which was held in Cairns, Australia on July 10 to 11, 1997, and thanked Australia for its hosting the Meeting. Leaders agreed that the implementation of the Action Plan requires strong commitment by all members to create policies for their economies. This policy should include the development of tourism particularly in the Forum Island Countries with limited and no exploitable resources, considering the potential of the coming millennium to tourism development in the region.
Leaders acknowledged the importance of accountability to economic development and agreed to implement legislation supported by administrative measures to counteract undesirable financial activities in the region, noting that such activities undermined development. They reaffirmed their commitment to free and open trade amongst the Forum Islands through tariff reform and to ensuring investment transparency. They agreed to cooperate closely in improving air and shipping services and in addressing other impediments to increase trade and investment.
The Forum directed the Forum Secretariat to accord high priority to facilitating the implementation of the FEMM outcomes and requested that the next FEMM report(s) to the 1998 Forum on progress in implementing the Action Plan.
On Trade Office Issues: The Leaders welcomed the opening of the Pacific Islands Center in Japan in October 1996 and requested the Government of Japan to consider providing further project funding for the Center to allow it to develop its role after its first formative year.
The Forum Leaders supported the establishment of the proposed trade office in the People's Republic of China and welcomed the offer by China to contribute funding for the office. The Forum noted that for the trade office to be worthwhile and effective, substantial additional resources need to be identified, and considered that plans to open this office not be advanced until sufficient funding can be found.
On Resources Issues: The Forum Leaders welcomed the successful outcome of the Second Multilateral High Level Conference on Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific held in Majuro in June 1997 and the Declaration that was adopted in the Conference. Leaders thanked the Republic of Marshalls for successfully hosting the Conference.
The Forum endorsed the convening of the inter-sessional working groups on Fisheries Management and Monitoring, Control and Surveillance and a Third Multilateral High Level Fisheries Conference before (the) 1998 Forum. The Forum also endorsed the concept of a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) for the Forum Fisheries Agencies (FFA) member countries which shall be progressively tested and implemented for the Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) vessels operating in the exclusive economic zone of FFA member countries commencing from January 1, 1998 and called on DWFNs operating in the region the VMS initiative FFA member countries.
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