The 6th Korea-Pacific Islands Senior Officials’ Meeting was held from 14 – 16 October in Busan, Korea. In the outcome statement of the Chair’s Summary of the meeting, Senior Officials representing the Cook Islands, Republic of Fiji, Republic of Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and the ROK participated in the meeting.
In the Chair’s Statement of the ROK-PICS SOM 6, a number of regional issues were discussed including ways to promote connectivity including people-to-people exchanges and economic interaction between the ROK and the Pacific Island Countries (PICs), further ways to enhance cooperation in areas of mutual interests, including climate change, maritime affairs and fisheries, trade and investment, tourism, capacity development, people-to-people exchanges, development cooperation and regional and international cooperation.
The representatives of the PICs expressed concerns over the withdrawal of the ROK’s air service from Nadi, Fiji, and strongly requested the resumption of the direct air service, recognizing that air services are vital to the promotion of connectivity between the ROK and the PICs, while also acknowledging the importance of concluding air service agreements where needed between the ROK and PICs.
Bilateral ODA projects as well as funding for climate resilient projects via international organizations for climate resilient projects. The PICs representatives noted the importance of becoming members of the GGGI to fully capitalize on the assistance it provides to countries, particularly to its members, and noted the process to be undertaken to become a GGGI member. The PICs representatives acknowledged the ROK’s announcement to double their contribution to the GCF and requested the ROK’s assistance in advocating easy access to GCF funding by the PICs who are on the frontlines of the impacts of climate change.
On maritime affairs, the ROK’s efforts to contribute to sustainable management of maritime resources in the Pacific as well as various maritime and fisheries cooperation through ODA projects was acknowledged. The establishment of Pacific regional organizations as well as other regional and national universities, and sector-specific institutions such as Fisheries Colleges was discussed as areas of priority to strengthen scientific research and development in the maritime area.
On the Korea-PIF Cooperation Fund (RPCF), the “Trade and Tourism Promotion Program”(TTPP) which was launched this year in promoting trade and tourism between the ROK and the PICs was acknowledged as crucial and to continuously pursue and extend such activities in various ways including the RPCF, while also noting the need to improve and institutionalize the KPCF, transparent, effective and responsible process for RPCF projects and further agreed to acquire the endorsement of guidelines for the modality of the selection and implementation of RPCF projects at the 4th Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (FMM4) for projects which were in line with regional and development priorities.
New areas such as promoting investment and trade, small medium enterprises (SMEs) and people-to-people exchanges between the ROK and the PICs were also acknowledged as important platforms for engagement. Regional security and the situation on the Korea Peninsula were also discussed. The meeting agreed to host the 4th Korea-Pacific Islands Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to be held in 2020 with the endeavor to explore the possibility of holding the meeting in the Pacific.