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New Zealand FM lays out challenges for Pacific Island leaders ahead of forum

(Xinhua)

08:50, September 06, 2011

WELLINGTON, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully Monday outlined the stark challenges and difficulties facing developing Pacific Island countries ahead of the annual meeting of Pacific nation leaders in Auckland.

McCully told the "Realising the Pacific's Potential" symposium, run by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute and Motu policy group, that Pacific nations were facing major obstacles in education and developing their core industries.

He said Pacific governments needed to pursue both economic drivers -- areas of greatest economic potential for the region, and enablers -- the preconditions for economic activity, if they were to make progress in sustainable growth.

The three main economic drivers were tourism, fisheries and agriculture.

Although the Pacific had a competitive advantage over much of the rest of the world with its natural beauty, cultural and natural diversity, and its relatively unspoiled qualities, it was "constrained by major obstacles."

"Air services into the region have actually declined, and within the region they have been characterized by inconsistency, unreliability and regular failures," said McCully.

"Lack of investment in airports, runways, wharves and cruise facilities constrain the transport services that are the arteries for tourism and trade, and act as a major deterrent to private sector investment in tourism assets.

"Multilateral funders continue to operate on a basis that is too slow, too bureaucratic and too cumbersome to play a meaningful role in developing the potential of the sector."

He said access to affordable finance was a major challenge and industry organizational and marketing strategies needed " considerable work," while poor regulatory and governance arrangements in some nations diminished the confidence of investors.

"All of these challenges need to be confronted together, and all donors, including the multilateral players, need to act together if we are to see the region make the most of its undoubted potential in the tourism sector," said McCully.


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