Press Release - Pacific Leaders and policy makers have been urged to come up with real solutions that will address challenges currently facing the small nations within the region.

When opening the Forum Trade Ministers' Meeting (FTMM) in Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) today, the FSM Vice President, Hon. Alik L. Alik said: "As small Pacific island nations, we are constantly faced with global challenges such as the impacts of climate change, food security, high energy costs and high level of unemployment, to name a few."

"These challenges are often beyond our control but nevertheless the responsibility is ours as leaders and policy-makers to come up with real solutions that will address these challenges."

Vice President Alik stated: "The development of sub-regional and regional arrangements of common interests and the improvement of trade and trade-related infrastructure will undoubtedly aid in the creation of new market opportunities, and will enhance trade among the Forum Island Countries to generate economic growth and income for our people."

"In this regard, our discussions and deliberations on regional integration, especially on trade and trade-related issues, should be fully inclusive of all the components of our Pacific Region."

In reference to FSM, Vice President Alik said his country attached importance to trade arrangements that would bear much economic potential for the country and to the Pacific region as a whole.

"As small islands states, trade engagements are important, but must be addressed with due diligence with consideration of social and economic fragilities
On the issue of PACER Plus, Hon. Alik expressed his Government's satisfaction that the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser has been established and operational in Vanuatu.

"My own sense is that the PACER Plus could become an important tool for achieving economic growth and sustainable development in our region, as we all are committed to give sense to the "Plus" reflected in the PACER."

He added: "The FSM is currently embarked in a process of state-wide and national consultations, which will begin next month and will be conducted throughout our four States.

"It is now our responsibility to demonstrate that our national interests are not mutually exclusive and to identify realistic options and approaches that will ensure mutual gains and benefits for all our countries and people."

PACER is the Pacific Agreement for Closer Economic Relations between Forum Countries. PACER Plus is a further negotiation process towards a possible free trade agreement among Forum members.

During the two-day meeting Forum Trade Ministers will discuss how to move forward on the negotiations of PACER Plus, funding arrangements for the Forum World Trade Organisation (WTO) Office in Geneva, the strategy for the Pacific Island Trade and Investment Commissions (PITICs), developments relating to Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property-related issues, Aid-for-Trade (AfT) and the trade related activities of the Forum Secretariat's Economic Governance Programme.