Pacific Island countries

Pacific countries press ahead with AstraZeneca rollout

That is despite several European countries and Australia limiting its use because of safety concerns.

In Australia, the Pfizer vaccine is now the preferred option for people under 50, Britain is offering an alternative for those under 30, while France and Belgium recommend AstraZeneca be given to those 55 and over.

European regulators said earlier this month they had found a possible link between AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine and a rare blood clotting problem that led to a small number of deaths.

Jamaica boosts ties with Pacific

The Caribbean nation has signed bilateral partnership agreements with Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.

Cabinet Minister Fayval Williams said the pursuit of diplomatic relations with Pacific countries would cement Jamaica's strategic plans to establish a greater presence in the Pacfic and intensify relations with small island states.

Williams said there was scope for cooperation in multiple areas, including environment, health, disaster resilience, education, agriculture and fisheries.


New Zealand to support Pacific neighbours in accessing Covid-19 vaccines

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed $75 million had been earmarked to support Pacific and global vaccine access and roll-out. 

“New Zealand is pursuing a portfolio of potential Covid-19 vaccines to ensure we have flexibility and choice in the fast-moving global marketplace. 

"We want to make sure Pacific countries can also access suitable options, and have the support they need to run successful immunisation campaigns,” she says.

Pacific tourism industry wiped out by Covid-19

Thousands of jobs in countries like Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are dependent on visitor numbers, which have fallen to zero.

Thousands of jobs have already been lost, with resorts and hotels closing in Fiji, the Cook Islands and Samoa, countries where tourism makes up more than half the economy.

And the ILO said with the pain brought by the pandemic expected to be long-lasting, workers with previously stable incomes are sliding into poverty.

Many of these people are also informal workers, with few protections if their jobs fall through.

Pacific nations take aim at NZ tag football organisers

The issue has come to light yet again after concerns were raised at the Tag Football World Cup held in Sydney last year when a Samoan team competing had not been recognised by the Samoan government.

And now American Samoa has taken aim at the New Zealand Tag Federation (NZTFI) organisers with concerns surrounding the use of the name 'American Samoa' in recent events.

Mechanism to track finance

Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS) Climate Change Finance Advisor, Exsley Taloiburi, said the tracking tool is being tested in two countries with a report to be presented at the 2020 Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM).

Pacific trade deal PACER-Plus is PACER-minus

“The PACER-plus trade deal with the Pacific Islands, tabled in the Senate today, has not been signed by PNG and Fiji, the two largest Pacific island economies which together represent over 80% of GDP of the combined island economies,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

“Without the two largest Pacific Island economies, PACER-plus has failed as a regional agreement and should really be called PACER-minus.”

Pacific island countries vote to ban asbestos

The proposal to advance work on banning asbestos, championed by Cook Islands, was agreed to by representatives of the 21 Pacific island and five metropolitan members of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) at its Twenty-eighth Meeting of Officials.

Speaking on behalf of Cook Islands, Director of the Cook Islands National Environment Service, Mr Joseph Brider, expressed delight at the positive outcome.

Vanuatu joins other PICs to tackle plastic problems

American Samoa, the Marshall Islands and the Micronesian state of Yap have already brought in bans and Fiji is launching its levy on plastic bags today.

On Friday lawmakers in the Northern Marianas passed a bill which fines shops if they offer them.

The bill, which passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and now heads to the Senate, proposes to impose penalties of between $US100 and $1,000 each day on stores that use plastic bags.

Climate partnerships needed to tackle climate change in the Pacific

Latu presented a perspective on the ‘Need for Accelerated Climate Change Action’ at the 14th Regional Meeting (Pacific Region) of the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly in Vanuatu last week.

“The Pacific has done very little to contribute to the problem of climate change yet stand to suffer the most as a result of the actions of developed countries and some emerging economies,” he said.