Vila Times

Australia doubles support to Pacific Islands Forum Geneva Office

Australia doubles support  to Pacific Islands Forum Geneva Office
Australia doubles support to Pacific Islands Forum Geneva Office
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Australia, through its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) have signed a 3-year agreement to support the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) Geneva Office.

The agreement confirms support for USD 1.8 million (AUD2m) for the year 2020-2021, a two-fold increase from Australia’s initial annual grant to the Geneva Office, of USD 700,000 (AUD 1 million) for the last three years.
The PIF Geneva Office provides an important base for Pacific Trade and Invest (PTI) Europe, and supports Forum Island Countries to engage effectively at the World Trade Organisation as well as other UN bodies and international organisations based in Geneva.

Welcoming the commitment from Australia, the PIFS Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor says the increased funding is very timely and reflects the “excellent results achieved by the PIF Geneva Office over the past three years in support of Member States”.

The PIFS’ Secretary General says “we are witnessing an unprecedented impact on trade to our Forum Island Countries due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, and I expect the expertise which has delivered so well over the last three years will rise to the task.”

“So far, the PIF Geneva Office has substantially strengthened the voice of the Forum Island Countries at the World Trade Organisation, and ensured the Pacific Islands Forum is more visible on the international stage. Our collective trade voice today is much stronger and Aid for Trade has increased in size and focus with over USD 6 million in resources mobilised by the Geneva Office over the past three years to Members. PTI Europe has also spearheaded new and profitable export deals that has increased trade opportunities for Pacific exporters. The additional funding provided by the Australian Government will be predominantly used to support activities that will spur COVID-19 recovery efforts in the Pacific region using trade and investment as key enablers of growth. I wish to sincerely thank the Australian Government for the continuous support to the PIF Geneva Office, which our Members see as fundamental to advance their interests in the area of trade and beyond”.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes said, “Australia is committed to supporting Pacific Islands Forum Members through the PIFS, for better engagement and coordination with UN agencies based in Geneva, in particular the World Trade Organization. This will ensure that the interests of the Pacific are heard and considered. We are committed to working with the Secretariat, PIF members, CROP agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure positive outcomes for our region.”

CAPTION: Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, and Australia’s Permanent representative to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, John Feakes and PIFS Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor at the signing of the 3-year agreement. PC: DAFT