Sunday, November 23, 2014

Engaging India in the Pacific Islands Region

Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato has carried forward a number of significant issues at a meeting of Pacific Island Countries and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, this week in Fiji.
The meeting took place following Modi’s attendance the G20 Leaders meeting in Brisbane, Australia, and was intended as a way for India to engage more closely with the governments of Pacific Island States.
Pato said the forum created an opportunity for Papua New Guinea and Pacific Island States to deepen engagement with one of the largest countries in the world.
“India has one of the biggest economies and populations in the global community, and is seeking to engage more closely with the Pacific through trade in goods and services,” Pato said.
“India is also growing as a support provider to developing countries and is interested to look at partnership opportunities through Papua New Guinea’s ongoing assistance with Pacific Island countries.”
Despite the population and economic size difference between India and Papua New Guinea, the Foreign Minister said two countries share a number of common concerns and challenges.
“Urbanisation is posing a challenge to India as people move from rural areas into the cities.
“This is placing significant pressure on infrastructure such as roads, water and energy.  There is scope for discussion at a working level between the two countries to share policy approaches to improving the lives of our people when these pressures are experienced.”
Pato said at a broader Pacific level, India has been acknowledged for its work on encouraging support for larger countries to confront climate change sand manage the consequences of issues such as rising sea levels.
“India’s Prime Minister is very strong in his views on climate change and has been vocal on this issue in the United Nations,” he said.
“Prime Minister Modi is aware of the affects of climate change on low-lying islands and other problems such as climate induced migration due to changing weather patterns.
“Papua New Guinea looks forward to advancing climate change issues alongside India at future UN related events.”
The Indian delegation expressed interest in discussing high level visits between Papua New Guinea and India to expand on trade, investment and other areas of mutual interest.
“There are a number of Indian companies already operating in Papua New Guinea and the two governments are looking at opportunities for expanding education opportunities, particularly in the area of information technology, where India has high-level expertise.”

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