South Pacific Forum in Indonesia to Strengthen Economic and Cultural Relations
Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry is hosting the Indonesia - South Pacific Forum (ISPF), running under the theme “Our future, shared ocean, shared prosperity”March 22nd, 2019
"This meeting is a very historic one because for the first time, Indonesia organizes a forum with the South Pacific," says Retno Marsudi, Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. The country, which shares nine maritime and two land borders with Southeast Asian and South Pacific nations, hosts this conference for a strengthened economic and cultural relationship between the nations.
As Indonesia and the South Pacific nations share ethnicity and cultural heritage, the forum aims at conducting a rather informal dialogue to discuss shared problems, common challenges and opportunities. The forum is also held in a framework that allows plans of concrete bilateral or multilateral cooperation between the Pacific states. Diplomatic and business officials from Australia, Micronesia, Fiji, New Caledonia, Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Tonga and Tuvalu, as well as the Melanesian Spearhead Group were present at the forum. The conference might further open up new relations to India in the Indonesian-South Pacific region.
One attempt at strengthening and expanding cultural diplomacy in the South Pacific region is the planned establishment of greater sea connectivity between Indonesia and the South Pacific nations. This could expand tourism as well as intercultural exchange. Besides cultural cooperation, the forum also put forward bilateral economic/trade agreements between different attendees of the conference, such as Indonesia with Fiji and Papua New Guinea respectively. All dialogues and agreements are supposed to “bind the countries in a mutually beneficial relationship”. According to Mrs Retno Marsudi, the forum thus was a success and the beginning for a new, shared future in the region.