Press Statement - 14 July 2009 - The Pacific Plan Action Committee (PPAC) which oversees the implementation of the Pacific Plan endorsed by Forum Leaders in 2005 has been told that significant progress has been achieved in the implementation of the Plan during 2009.

In his opening remarks at the two-day meeting of PPAC which started at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji today, Secretary General of the Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade said this year has been a particularly intensive one for the implementation of the Plan.

"We have had to undertake a great deal of work under the Pacific Plan. Additionally, there has been a range of key Ministerial processes actively engaged with questions of regional cooperation and integration; the three-year Review of the Plan has been undertaken, which we will have to consider at this session; and we need also to proclaim and advocate the importance of what our collective endeavours have achieved," said Mr Slade.

Notable results have been achieved in areas including:

. The maintenance of the whole-of-region position to protect the region's interests in the fisheries sector internationally;
. The commitment of a fit-for-purpose shipping service for a number of our small island states and addressing concerns over limited existing services;
. Significant progress with the bulk procurement of petroleum initiative with the launch of Phase One of the Project;
. The continued work in the health sector to better support Pacific peoples in addressing emerging issues such as non-communicable diseases, HIV and the H1N1 pandemic;
. Ongoing deregulation of mobile telephone and internet services across the region with the resulting expansion of services and the lowering of costs; and
. Progress on trade matters, more specifically PACER-Plus agreement to establish the Office of Chief Trade Adviser and for negotiations to commence after the conclusion of the Forum Leaders' meeting in Cairns next month.

Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat Mr Slade added that progress has also been made in implementation the Forum Leaders' 2008 decisions on the region's institutional framework.

"In this connection I acknowledge the volume of work undertaken by the CEOs of SPC, SPBEA, SPREP and SOPAC over 2009. We cannot under-estimate the sheer effort employed, the personnel engaged nor, indeed, the resources involved. I offer to them all my highest admiration and warm congratulations."

"So, it is with emphasis that I contend that the continued success of our work will hinge on our continued commitment to staying the course," said Mr Slade. "Inherently, it is our collective pledge to regional cooperation and integration through the Pacific Plan."

Mr Slade acknowledged the difficulties and challenges that member countries face in their implementation of the Pacific Plan at the national level.

"But, our perspective should not be tainted by frustrations, obstacles and disappointments. Nor should we neglect the distance travelled and the ground that we have gained. The fact is that the issues to be tackled cannot be divorced from the reality of long-term commitment."