10-28-2008 16:26Special Report: Global Financial Crisis
WELLINGTON, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- The effects of the global economic crisis is a cause of concern for the Pacific Islands Forum(PIF) member countries, "but in these times of crisis there are openings and opportunities for those countries through regional cooperation," said a senior PIF official on Tuesday.
Speaking at the opening of the 12th Forum Economic Ministers Meeting in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, on Tuesday, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Tuiloma Neroni Slade said: "for Forum Islands Countries, there is cause for concern about impacts on the demand for our exports and services and, more seriously, for tourism."
"But in times of crisis, there are openings and opportunities. We need, as a region, to take charge of a challenging situation to demonstrate the resilience Forum states have shown in past crisis," he said.
"We need in particular to re-assess and renew commitment to sound policies and structural reforms. This would be a good opportunity to re-assert prudence and re-invigorate sound surveillance and management systems," Slade said.
There is reason to be positive about the fall in oil prices, although there is likely to be continuing fluctuations in oil prices. There is also the dip in food prices over the last few months, which may slow down the high inflation experienced so far this year, he added.
"However, it needs also to be appreciated that current oil and food prices remain at much higher levels than experienced on average in the last five years. This remains a significant concern for policy makers in our region, particularly given the reliance of Pacific Island Countries on imports," he added.
Slade said given the current situation there was significance in the adoption of "energy and food security" as the theme for economic ministers meeting.
During the two-day meeting, the economic ministers will discuss among others, a draft Memorandum of Understanding for the bulk procurement of petroleum, the Pacific Regional Audit Initiative, Temporary Movement of Labor.
There will be also presentations from the international financial institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank on the global economic crisis, effects on the Pacific island economies and possible measures to mitigate the impact on their economies.
Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei opened the meeting.