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Final communique of meeting of Commonwealth heads of government of the Asian and Pacific region

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The second meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government of the Asia-Pacific Region was held in New Delhi from 4-8 September 1980. Heads of Government who attended the Meeting were the Prime Minister of Australia, the President of Bangladesh, the Prime Minister of Fiji, the Prime Minister of India, the President of Kiribati, the

Prime Minister of Malaysia, the President of Nauru, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Prime Minister of Singapore, the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, the President of Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister of Tonga, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, the Prime Minister of Vanuatu and the Prime Minister of Western Samoa. The Prime Minister of India, Shrimati Indira Gandhi, was in the chair.

2. Heads of Government welcomed the valuable opportunity provided by this meeting to discuss in an informal atmosphere matters of common interest to them, including problems of a global nature. They agreed that there was ample scope for

a united approach to matters 6f concern to all countries of the region. They examined in this cpntext various specific and concrete programs and proposals for practical co-operation among the countries represented. .

3. Heads of Government noted with particular satisfaction that since their last meeting two years ago, four more countries in the Pacific, who following the attainment of independence had become members of the Commonwealth, were participating

in this meeting, namely Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. They felt that the Pacific Island countries should be able to look with confidence towards the Commonwealth in particular and the international community in general to help

them to tackle their special problems of development.


4. Heads of Government, recognising the significant impact which events and developments since they last met had had on the peace and stability of the Asian region, reviewed the current international strategic and political

situation. They noted with grave concern the deterioration in the overall situation, including the prospects of confrontation between great powers in the region. They addressed their attention in particular to the consequences

and implications of the crises in Afghanistan and Kampuchea. They also noted the intensification of great power military presence in the Indian Ocean. Recognising the political, security, economic and social ramifications of these events, Heads of Government stressed the urgency of the resolution of the differences by peaceful means. They reaffirmed

their conviction that relations between states should be based on, respect for sovereignty, equality, independence and territorial integrity. They affirmed the inadmissability of the use of force in international relations and of

intervention and interference in the internal affairs of states.

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The Indian Ocean

5. Heads of Government noted with concern that

despite the expressed wishes of the littoral and hinterland states, great power military presence in the Indian Ocean has increased and that there has been a deterioration of peace and security in the Indian Ocean area. They further

noted with regret that recent events in the region, together with the worsening international situation, have caused a further build-up of great power military presence. While

regretting the suspension of the bilateral talks on arms limitation in the Indian Ocean between the Soviet Union and the United States and reaffirming their commitment to the ultimate establishment of a Zone of Peace in the Indian Ocean in accordance with the 1971 UN Declaration, they called upon the great powers to take active and effective

steps to remove existing sources of tension in the area. In the absence of such steps progress towards such a Zone would be difficult. They expressed the hope that the proposed UN Conference on the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka

next year would make a positive contribution to the implementation of the Declaration.


6. Heads of Government noted with grave concern the

situation which had developed in Afghanistan and agreed that it carried dangerous implications for the peace and stability of the region. While noting that there were differing perceptions as to the circumstances leading up

to the present situation, they emphasised that if a political settlement acceptable to all involved and affected parties was not found, a further deterioration including a possibility of great power confrontation was unavoidable. Pending such a settlement they stressed the need to de-escalate tensions. They expressed their full

support for the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-aligned status of Afghanistan and other countries of the region. They urged the concerned parties to work towards a settlement which would ensure that the Afghan people would determine their own destiny free from foreign interference and intervention.


7. Heads of Government expressed grave concern over the persistence of foreign intervention and interference in Kampuchea. The situation which existed affected the peace and security of the whole region. They were convinced that, to bring about durable: peace and stability in South-east Asia, there was an urgent need for a comprehensive political solution to the Kampuchean problem which would ensure the sovereignty, independence and neutrality of Kampuchea. Heads o f .Government were convinced of the need for the withdrawal of foreign forces from that country. They were also convinced of the necessity tp create a climate of peace and security in

Kampuchea which would enable the people of that country to determine their future destiny free from outside interference.

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8. Urging all states in South-east Asia to develop

peaceful, friendly and harmonious relations, Heads of Government noted with approval the efforts being made for the: early establishment of a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality in the region and called upon all states to lend their fullest support to these efforts. They expressed their conviction that a comprehensive political solution of the Kampuchean question would contribute to the realisation of such a Zone of Peace.


9. Heads of Government agreed that among the most

pressing humanitarian issues facing them was the plight of approximately two million refugees in the Asian region. Heads of Government commended international efforts being undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations as well as the individual efforts by various countries to

alleviate the plight of these refugees, including where possible to enable them to return voluntarily to their homelands". They nevertheless recognised that much more

needed to be done to assist the refugees and the countries giving them temporary shelter. They also expressed the hope that the international community would intensify its efforts to bring relief to all people in the region who have suffered untold rigours of famine and deprivation and have been displaced by war, disease and hunger.

South Pacific

10. Heads of Government agreed that regional co-operation could contribute significantly to the capability of member states in the South Pacific in overcoming their problems. They also agreed that it was

vital for the peace and stability of the region that all peoples of the South Pacific were afforded the opportunity to exercise their, right to self-determination as laid down in the UN Charter. They expressed the conviction that this right precluded interference by any country or outside elements in any form.


11. Heads of Government expressed deep satisfaction at the Commonwealth's significant role in Zimbabwe's . accession to freedom and independence. They recalled the basis for a political settlement in Zimbabwe had been laid

at the Lusaka Meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government in 1979 and that the Commonwealth has played a central part in the subsequent processes which led to free and fair elections and independence. They noted that all Commonwealth countries of the Asia-Pacific Region had contributed, in various ways, to this notable achievement which had further strengthened the Commonwealth's solidarity

and sense of purpose.

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Middle East

12. Heads of Government noted with deep concern that the situation in the Middle East, including recent developments, remained critical, posing a continuing threat to global peace and security. They reaffirmed the necessity

of urgently seeking a just settlement of the problem on the basis of the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly and the Security Council and the recognition of the legitimate

and inalienable rights of the Palestian people.


International Economic Situation

13. Heads of Government reviewed the trends in the

world economy since they last met and assessed present prospects. They viewed with serious concern the world economic crisis. There was a marked slowdown in world economic activity and growth, increased unemployment, high levels of inflation, and an unprecedented balance of payments problem. At the same time they felt that the world economy was so interdependent that common economic problems could only be resolved by concerted action by all countries. This also entailed the exertion of the

necessary political will on the part of the developed countries.

14. Heads of Government stressed that this crisis situation, especially in the light of its consequences for economic welfare and political stability, deserved the most urgent attention by the international community. Inward

looking national approaches would not only prove ineffective but could also be counter productive. Bold international action involving the whole international community deserved serious consideration.

15. In this connection, Heads of Government welcomed the report of the Brandt Commission "A Program for Survival" and the report of the Commonwealth group of experts, "The World Economic Crisis". They felt that both reports were

timely and complementary and their emphasis on interdependence and mutuality of interest in structural change was a constructive response to the present impasse in the North/South dialogue and the need for bold and imaginative solutions. They commended the recommendations for serious consideration and support, as appropriate, by the international community in the forthcoming global negotiations.

16. Heads of Government welcomed the decision of the

UN General Assembly to set up a new global round of negotiations on international economic co-operation in.1981. In this connection they urged every co-operation to ensure a successful outcome at the current special session of the UN General Assembly. They expressed the hope that the global

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round would usher in a new era of fruitful and constructive negotiations in the 1980's and they agreed to give maximum support to ensuring its success. Recognising the need for wide support at the highest political level, they endorsed

the recommendation of the Brandt Commission for a limited and representative informal summit. .

17. Heads of Government regarded the mounting payments deficits of developing countries and widening global payments imbalances as one of the urgent and indeed critical problems facing the world community. They

stressed that greater intermediation by international financial institutions was crucial to promoting the recycling of surpluses, ensuring greater participation by the least developed, most seriously affected, the landlocked

and the island developing countries, and facilitating a smooth adjustment process. In this connection they drew attention to the innovative approach to the recyling process recommended by the Commonwealth experts group and commended

it for urgent consideration by the international community.

18. Heads of Government noted that many developing countries had been gravely affected in the past year by a combination of adverse international factors. These had created an acute balance of payments problem, which had critically aggravated their overall economic situation. In

these circumstances and, given the difficulty of the least developed, most seriously affected, landlocked and island developing countries in borrowing on acceptable commercial terms and conditions, they felt that there was urgent need

to augment substantially the flow of financial resources on sustained concessional terms and on a predictable long term basis. Such assistance was immediately required as balance of payments support to maintain their level of economic

activity and to achieve even minimal development objectives . At the same time, significant additional assistance, as well as appropriate domestic policies were required to enable these countries to make necessary medium term adjustments, more especially by developing their energy potential, building up

their infrastructure, and augmenting their export capacities.

Trade Policy

19. Recognising that freer and expanding world trade was an area of strong mutuality of interest between countries. Heads of Government expressed concern at the continuing trend of rising protectionism and the possibility of a sudden escalation should the recession deepen. They expressed the belief that positive adjustment policies and the dissemination

of information on the advantages of freer trade could greatly help governments to resist political pressures for protectionism. They agreed to support international action for the encouragement and monitoring of positive adjustment policies. They noted that although some positive results of significant benefit to major developed countries were achieved in the recently concluded multilateral trade

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negotiations, in the context of products of export interest to the region the results were far from satisfactory. In this connection they noted the lack of attention given, to increasing quantitative restraints and other new protectionist devices adopted contrary to both the spirit and the letter of the GATT, and the limited attention given to the liberation of agricultural trade. They agreed to work together in support of efforts to secure better access

for their products in the major consuming countries.

20. They reiterated their faith in the present GATT

rules which allowed neither selective safeguards nor conditional MFN action and agreed to work together to ensure that the safeguards under the present system were


21. They noted that the negotiations on the future of

the multi-fibre arrangement would soon start. The participating countries agreed that a return to the provisions of the original MFA and the setting of a time limit for the abandonment of the MFA was the minimum desirable goal in the negotiations.

Commodities and the Common Fund

22. Heads of Government welcomed the conclusion of negotiations within UNCTAD to set up a common fund and noted the constructive role played by previous Commonwealth fora and the Commonwealth Secretariat, in helping to bring about a positive outcome.They agreed to continue working together constructively in supporting the operation of the fund and

its further development. They viewed with concern the slow progress in negotiating new international commodity agreements and the recent setbacks in::renegotiating existing agreements, and offered their full co-operation in helping to ensure faster progress in setting up international commodity agreements.

Economic and Technical Co-operation Among Developing Countries

23. Heads of Government reaffirmed the growing relevance of economic and technical co-operation amongst developing countries Which would constitute an additional input to global development efforts. They stressed that such

co-operation required adequate support from the developed countries, multilateral development agencies and international financial institutions. They observed that the lack of information as to the capabilities of the

developing countries was a major impediment to such co-operation and they urged the Commonwealth Secretariat to give attention to measures designed to bridge the information gap. They noted with appreciation that the

Secretariat was already making extensive use of these capabilities in its programs and they asked it to make maximum it&e of these resources in programs in the region.

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Regional Trade

24. Heads of Government accepted the recommendations contained in the Report of the Consultative Group on Trade.

25. Heads of Government noted with concern that

protectionism is on the increase, particularly against the labour intensive or lower cost exports of countries of the region. Most developing countries have severe balance of

payments problems and need to expand export opportunities for their competitive products in order to pay for their imports mainly from developed countries.

26. Developed countries and, in particular, those which exercise the major influence over world trade, should not seek to avoid the realities of international competitiveness and should^make a determined effort to liberalise trade

through the adoption of positive adjustment policies.

27. Heads of Government paid particular attention to the reference by the consultative group to the longstanding and persistent protectionist policies of the major industrialised countries against competitive exports of industrial and agricultural.products of member countries of the region. They considered that the group should, as a matter of urgency, make these policies the subject of detailed examination and report. They also agreed on the need for the consultative group to examine and report on measures to facilitate the liberalisation of trade within

the region, recognising that economic co-operation between member countries needed to be strengthened as part of the process of improving access to developed country markets of the exports of developing countries.

28. They decided that the group's terms of reference

should be broadened to include economic development issues in order that the potential for development of member countries may be explored in a more effective manner.. The additional terms of reference are as follows:-- Study mutually beneficial ways and means to facilitate

· . . a better use of resources, diversify production and obtain more fruitful specialisation to promote international trade within the region specially with a view to accelerating the economic development of the developing countries.

- Explore avenues where two or more countries may be able to co-operate on joint ventures and on projects which would maximise the economic and trading opportunities of the countries concerned. .

- Examine possibilities for mutually beneficial exchanges in such areas as project management, design engineering for infrastructural development and marketing among member countries.

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* Examine ways of improving the export trade of developing countries in commodities, semi-manufactures and manufactures and of encouraging the adoption of positive adjustment policies, especially by developed

countries, which will facilitate the redeployment of industries on the basis of comparative advantage.

- Promote market promotion activities which aim at facilitating the expansion of intraregional trade.

Industrial Co-operation

29. Heads of Government recognised the importance of mutual co-operation in the industrial development of the region. They noted with satisfaction the establishment of the Industrial Development Unit (IDU) within the Commonwealth Secretariat and felt that it provided a useful vehicle for industrial co-operation among member

countries. They felt that the Unit could play a positive role in providing catalytic inputs relating to feasibility studies, upgrading industries through technical, engineering and managerial support and filling gaps impeding the

implementation of viable projects. They noted that the role of the IDU was to provide expertise and services to complement the activities of other international agencies.

30. Heads of Government expressed their appreciation of the offers of assistance made by Australia and India in the form of funds, experts, technology and other services to support the IDU and facilitate successful implementation of industrial projects in the region.

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31. They acknowledged the need for making special efforts for the industrial development of small island developing countries in the region and for drawing up

special shcemes for this purpose. Such schemes should be responsive to the perceptions and policies of the individual countries themselves with regard to the course of their industrial development.

32. Heads of Government noted that the Asian

Development Bank and the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation would be undertaking an industrial survey to identify projects to enable island countries to take advantage of the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Agreement and that the Government of Australia had offered

to provide a team leader.

33. With a view to providing a means of continuing

mutual co-operation in industrial development of the region, and a continuing forum for the exchange of ideas among member countries, Heads of Government decided to set up a Working Group on Industry with the following Terms of Reference:

(a) Examine and consider proposals for industrial co-operation among member countries including: .

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(i) Establishing and enhancing capabilities for industrial development and technical co-operation. in regard to consultancy, engineering design, technological documentation, technology transfer, development of national standards and research

and development,

(ii) training of manpower and entrepreneurial development and,

(iii) identification and implementation of specific projects of industrial co-operation such as resource surveys, pre-investment studies, development of energy sources, and the establishment . of small-scale and large industrial ventures,

(b) provide to the countries concerned its assessment of these proposals:

(c ) interact with the IDU in the work of facilitating industrial development in the region, and

(d) undertake such other assignments as may be entrusted to it by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting.

34. It was decided that Papua New Guinea would act

as the convenor of the working group.


35. Heads of Government considered and endorsed the Report of the Consultative Group, on Energy. They welcomed the.establishment of the Regional Renewable Energy Resources Information System as a valuable contribution which, inter

alia, will assist in identifying problems caused by the shortage of adequate information and, in many instances, the absence of sufficient numbers of adequately trained personnel. They underlined the crucial character which the question of energy had now assumed in the global scene. They .

stressed the importance given in the Report to the Development, of Integrated Energy Systems to meet the needs of each country on the basis of utilising local resources, in particular those of renewable energies. They agreed that the group should

intensify its activity in the period ahead and not only continue to stress the issues identified in the Sydney Communique, but also examine new initiatives for the wider utilisation of renewable energy technologies, including

technology transfer on mutually beneficial terms. In this regard they welcomed the suggestions made by India to make available training facilities in Indian Institutions to scientific and technical personnel from other countries,

to supply prototypes of devices for the utilisation of renewable energies and to make available the services of specialists in the fields covered by the Report. They also agreed that the scope of the Group's activities should be widened to include certain aspects of conventional energy as proposed in the Report of the Group. .

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36. Heads of Government took particular note of the

fact, revealed in the Group's Report, that a paucity of data and a difficulty of access where data exist are important handicaps to energy planning and technology assessment, particularly in the smaller countries. They

therefore welcomed the willingness of India and Australia to support such resource and energy needs surveys as might be requested. They also referred to the need to provide increased training and other technical assistance, including

the exchange of personnel, in order to facilitate the implementation of energy programmes geared to the needs of the countries of the region. In this connection they noted with satisfaction that the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia had announced during the Meeting their intention to co-sponsor an energy planning workshop in Papua New Guinea later this year.

Agricultural Research and Development

37. Heads of Government noted that a number of

Commonwealth countries of the region had expertise and experience in agricultural research and development which could profitably be harnessed for wider collective benefit. They agreed that with the prospect of an increasing imbalance between food

supplies and population growth and with overwhelming dependence on agricultural products as major export earners in many countries of the region, a greater co-operative effort in this area would be both timely and beneficial..

38. Heads of Government considered a number of proposals put forward by the President of Bangladesh and, as a consequence, requested the Secretary-General to appoint an expert study group (drawn from the countries of the region) to examine and .

recommend a programme of action designed to establish purposeful collaboration among countries of the region, · increase and diversify agricultural production and processing and alleviate rural poverty through agricultural development, including the development of fisheries. .

39. Heads of Government agreed that in implementing their mandate, the Expert Study Group should study and make recommendations relating to:

(a) measures for an increased flow of information on .agricultural research and development, with the aim of facilitating the transfer and exchange of technologies, research management, research

equipment and adaptive research, taking into account the specific needs of each country:

(b) a framework for greater co-operation amongst national research institutions in the region, including the . exchange of research scientists and other experts,

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(c) appropriate measures for the establishment of an "Information Bank" based on evaluated expertise in agricultural research and development and related fields in countries of the region,

(d) joint projects by national institutes in appropriate rural technologies, including post harvest storage and processing technology:

(e) regional co-operation in the protection of national rights and the exploitation and development of fishery resources in the new exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

40. It was agreed that full account should be taken by

the group of services and assistance available through existing agencies, institutions and bilateral aid. The Study Group would submit its report to the Secretary-General as early as possible. It was agreed that the-costs of the

individual experts appointed to the Study Group would be met from within the region.

Illicit Drugs

41. Heads of Government reviewed the Report of the Working Group on Illicit Drugs which dealt with a serious problem affecting humanity at large in a variety of ways. They recognised that drug abuse on a pervasive scale

threatened the security, stability and resilience of a nation. They further noted that this was not merely a social problem and that there was a clear link between drug trafficking and other types of organised crime,

including illegal traffic in firearms, which could pose a serious security problem in some countries. They expressed the hope that steps would be taken by the concerned member countries for early adherence to the UN Conventions of 1961 (as amended) and 1971 so as to secure a uniform basis for the harmonisation of national drug laws within

the region. They reiterated the need to foster closer co-operation and to explore the possibility of enacting fresh legislation or amending the existing legislation where necessary, for the effective implementation of the working group's recommendations within the framework of the

existing international and regional agencies. They agreed that the group should be reconvened at least once a year.

Terrorism *

42. The Report of the Working Group on the important

subject of terrorism was reviewed. In endorsing the Report, Heads of Government commended the degree of co-operation which was evident from the interchange among officials. They agreed that regional member countries should take

appropriate action in the light of recommendations of the Group and keep in close touch during forthcoming deliberations on this subject in relevant international bodies.



Assistance for Small Island Developing States

43. Heads of Government commended the desire of Pacific Island countries for greater self-reliance through increased mutual co-operation among themselves. They welcomed their initiative for a Pacific Regional Advisory Service proposed at the Honolulu Conference in March 1980, through which they would assist each other in providing 1 for their need for specialist skills and other manpower requirements. The proposal for a Pacific Regional Advisory Service was fully consistent both with the Commonwealth tradition of mutual help and self reliance and with the United Nations concept of increased technical co-operation amongst developing island countries themselves. Heads of Government welcomed^ Australia's offer to finance and to assist in regional consultations on the establishment of the proposed Pacific Regional Advisory Service. . .

Role of the Commonwealth Secretariat

44. Heads of Government expressed their appreciation for the effective contribution being made to regional co-operation by the Commonwealth Secretariat. They were confident that the Secretariat would continue to be . responsive to requests for assistance in the planning, design and implementation of appropriate activities in member countries of the region. To this end, they

emphasised that it would be desirable for all CHOGRM programmes to be developed in close collaboration with the Secretariat and with the support of its professional services in order to ensure maximum harmonisation wit„h other relevant Commonwealth activities.


45. Heads of Government recognised that if the impetus of the programme for regional co-operation is to be maintained, additional resources will be required by the Commonwealth Secretariat and in particular the CFTC for the provision of the additional services and technical assistance. They undertook to consider sympathetically, in consultation with

the Secretariat, the additional funding requirements of specific activities. . .

Co-operation with Other Countries and Organisations

46. Heads of Government expressed the view that regional co-operation should allow for co-operation with non-Commonwealth countries and organisations in specific activities where this is desirable. They agreed that in order to ensure a greater exchange of information for mutual benefit, the reports of the consultative and working

groups should be made available to relevant regional and international organisations.




47. Heads of Government expressed their sincere .

appreciation to the CHOGRM Consultant, Mr Koelmeyer, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operat jion, for maintaining the momentum towards greater co-operation and consultation which was generated by their first meeting. In view of the increased

number, of areas which they had identified for expanding the functional relationship between them, they agreed on the need to continue and strengthen the liaison facilities ■ required to ensure appropriate follow-up action and requested the Secretary-General, in consultation with member countries and subject to the availability of resources, to make available the necessary liaison facilities.


48. Heads of Government expressed appreciation for the excellent arrangements made for their Meeting by the Indian Government and for the warm and friendly hospitality they received from the Indian Government and people. .

49. Heads of Government expressed satisfaction with the progress made in th.eir regional initiatives since their first meeting in Sydney in February 1978 and with the contribution their regional co-operation has made to the strengthening of their Commonwealth bonds and the Commonwealth

association as a whole. They asked the Chairman to convey these sentiments to all other Commonwealth Heads of Government.

Next Meeting

50. Heads of Government accepted with pleasure an invitation from the Prime Minister of Fiji to meet again in Suva in 1982.