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South Pacific Forum: communique

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NEWS RELEASE NO. D/50 15 September 1972


The President of Nauru, the Prime Ministers of.New Zealand*

Western Samoa and Fiji, the Premier of the Cook Islands, the Australian

Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Lands of Tonga met in

Suva from 12 to 14 September for the Third Meeting of the South Pacific

F orum„

This meeting, the first to be held in the Islands, was welcomed

by participants as reflecting the acceptance of the Forum as a permanent

regional institutiono It was also appropriate that the

held in the capital of one of its Island members where the Bureau for .

Economic Co-operation is to be located» . . . .

As at the first two meetings in Wellington and Canberra, . · ■ .

discussion centred on matters of immediate and practical concern* The

measures which were considered were directed towards the social and economic

well-being of the peoples of the member countries, with especial emphasis

on ways and means of developing mutual trade» .

The Forum decided to conclude as soon as agreement

for the establishment of a South Pacific Bureau for Economic Cooperation

and approved the terms of a draft text which they initialled. They ·

undertook to recommend its adoption to member governments, » ·

The. Forum confirmed the appointment of The Honourable.. Mahe

Tupouniua, Minister of Finance in Tonga, as Director and appointed

Mr K.W. Piddington, formerly Head of the Economic Division of the New Zealand

Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be Deputy Director» They will be starting

work in Suva in November»

Membership of Forum and Bureau

While upholding the principle that membership of the. Forum, should

be restricted to decision-makers from independent or self-governing countries,

members wished to find a way in which a country such as Papua New .-.Guinea,

which expects to become self-governing by the end of 1973i and which has

expressed a genuine interest in becoming a member of the Forum, can be

associated with it at an earlier date» . · . · .

The Forum considered that it would be inappropriateito.establish

different types of membership in either the Forum or the Bureau» Prospective

members could be invited to attend its own meetings as observers in the

period immediately prior to achieving self-government» It noted.the;

request made by Chief Minister Somare of Papua New Guinea, forwarded to

Fiji, the Host Government, raising the question of attandance at the; Forum.

The Forum decided to invite Papua New Guinea to attend future Forum meetings

as an observer until such time as it met the criterion for full membership,

namely self-government or independence. Membership of the Bureau.need not

be restricted to members of the Forum, providing that the Forum,-,it'self

decides to approve an application from a non-member. The services·· of the

Bureau should, however, be available to territories in the region who are

not members whether or not they contribute financially. · v ’

Trade and Economic Co-operation . · .

, The Forum considered how regional cooperation in trade.and economic

matters might be strengthened and discussed the possibility of.arrangements

amongst Forum members to facilitate trade and economic development»; /



It is appropriate that the cooperation of the Forum countries

should have culminated in the formation of the Bureau of Economic

Cooperation at a time when the enlargement of the EEC has made changes

necessary in the trading patterns of Forum countries.

The options available to certain island members of the Forum in

regard to their future relations with the enlarged EEC were discussed.

Members recognised that it would be necessary to weigh up -carefully the

respective advantages and disadvantages of those options bearing in mind

possible regional arrangements in the longer term.

Ways must be found to strengthen the economies of Island members

of the Forum by extending the production and processing industries. In

particular, special consideration should be given to; .

- the development of further processing of primary ■


- the rationalisation of import substitution industries. .

- the establishment of export-oriented manufacturing


The Forum decided that the Bureau for Economic Cooperation

should be asked to carry out a commodity by commodity and an industry

by industry study to identify where and in what manner development might

take place. This study will examine exports by Island members within

the region and look at export possibilities beyond the South Pacific.

It will take into account quarantine and commerical regulations besides

tariffs. -

The Bureau is also asked to report on the factors which need

to be taken into account in deciding whether and on what conditions Fiji,

Tonga and Western Samoa should seek associate status with the EEC.

Forum members acknowledged the need to make the maximum use

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of existing opportunities such as those available under the general scheme

of preferences for developing countries. .

Australia and New Zealand expressed their willingness to work

closely with Island members and the Bureau in finding solutions to the many

important trade and economic matters which they must now face. This could

include such assistance asi ■ ■ ■. :

- Cooperation in assisting fair commerical access to

each others markets for agreed commodities. ·..

- Facilitation of investment and encouragement of joint ·

ventures in industries using island raw materials.

- Encouragement of cooperation in consultancy services, in

design and construction projects including joint .ventures

with a maximum practicable use of island resources.

- Supporting the negotiation of internatioanl agreements,

to improve the conditions of trade in primary products.

The Forum discussion highlighted the fact that no single or simple

action is likely to solve trade problems. There must be continuing action over

a wide range of activities if the Islands are to expand and diversify their

trade in the region and in wider world markets. .

Nuclear Testing

The question of nuclear weapons tests was extensively discussed in

the light of the series of tests recently concluded by France.- , · . . ;

Members were expressing their deep concern that the

French Government should have failed so signally to accord recognition to

the wishes of the peoples of the South Pacific area despite the .view's so

clearly indicated by both governments and peoples. The fact that radioactive

fallout from this year's series was low because of the nature of the test

explosions carried out did not lessen their opposition, which would remain

unaltered until such time as a firm assurance was given that the South



Pacific would not be used as a site for further experimentation of this kind

with its resulting implications for man and his environment, and in '

particular the marine environment. '

Members exchanged views as to the ways and means by which they

could pursue their common objective of bringing to an end all nuclear weapons

tests in all environments by any country. The Prime Minister of New Zealand

and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia informed the meeting of the

steps being taken by the two Governments to invite Pacific member states

of the United Nations similarly concerned about this matter to meet in New

York during the early stage of the forthcoming session of the General

Assembly, and outlined the approach which they intend to adopt» The warm

support of other Forum members was voiced for this initiative.

Law of the Sea

• The Forum discussed a number of issues concerning the law of the

< sea including the breadth of the territorial sea, the question of resources

jurisdiction over a wider area of sea and of the sea bed, a special regime

for archipelago states and rights of passage through water subject to the

jurisdiction of coastal states. They agreed that there was a large area

of common interest among members of the Forum and that there should continue

to be close consulation among them in relation to the prospective

Conference on the Law of the Sea. · . .

Members of the Forum recognised Tonga's historical association

with the Minerva Reefs, welcomed the Tongan Governments continuing.interest

in the area and agreed that there could be no question of recognizing

o:ther claims, and specifically that of the Ocean Liferesearch Foundation,

to sovereignty over the Reefs.

. University of the South Pacific

. The Forum agreed that, because they contribute to university

finances, regional representation on the 1972 University Salaries Committee


should be increased to four so that members can be appointed from Tonga and

the British Solomon Islands in- 'addition to Fiji and Samoa,


The Forum noted that the UNDP has recruited two experts to study

telecommunications improvements and that their reports will be considered at

a technical meeting in 1972, -

Regional Development Bank

I The Forum took the opportunity to discuss the report of a UNDP

visiting Mission which has recommended the establishment of a ^Regional

Development Bank which will be an item on the Agenda of the forthcoming

South Pacific Conference in Apia,

Regional Shipping .

The Forum considered a paper reporting the results of a recent

seminar on shipping held in Western Samoa, Members discussed the feasibility. '

of a regional shipping line, inflationary increases in freight rates, the

need to improve present services, and a number of features about the trade

of the region which should be taken into account in deciding what kind of

shipping services are required.

The Forum commissioned the Bureau to carry out further studies into

the financial and operational structure of a regional shipping line., An

important objective of the study would be to determine the extent to which

such a line would be economically viable and to make recommendations on ways

and means of achieving this aim. The Forum noted the suggestion that Australia

might be able to assist in the study to be made by the Bureau. It accepted

with appreciation Australia's offer to do whatever it could to assist.

Demographic Problems ·

The Forum reviewed the cause and effect of population problems, \

particularly those arising from education systems not adapted to .

contemporary needs, and supported an approach to UNESCO to organize a

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conference, in conjunction with the South Pacific Commission, to consider

population problems, urbanisation and resettlement in the Pacific region.

Tourism . ' ■ * "

The Forum discussed the effects of tourism in the region and

supported a proposal, to be discussed at the South Pacific Conference

in Apia. That UNESCO might be asked to undertake a study' of tourism in

the South Pacific with particular reference to its impact on the way of

life of the islands. .

Next Meeting . - ,

Members, gratefully accepted the invitation of the Prime Minister

of Western Samoa to hold the.neptt meeting of the Forum in Apia before

the 1973 South Pacific Conference. .

Suva, Fiji 14 September 1972