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Cook Islands welcomes ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific’

Monday 4 July 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Economy, National

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Cook Islands welcomes ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific’
National flags for the Pacific Islands. AP/21080603

New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom have joined the United States in an initiative titled “Partners in the Blue Pacific” which has the goal of improved cooperation in the Pacific region.

The announcement was made a week ago.

Cook Islands Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Tepaeru Herrmann said the aspirations of the initiative was noted by the Cook Islands.

“Time will tell what if any benefits accrue to the Cook Islands and Pacific Islands Countries from the PBP (Partners in the Blue Pacific).”

Herrmann said a first step for the US and UK would be to formalise diplomatic relations with the Cook Islands.

“We look forward to working with both governments, through their respective missions in Wellington, to quickly advancing the establishment of diplomatic relations in the very near future,” Herrmann said.

A statement out of the White House said the Partners in the Blue Pacific aimed to deliver results to the Pacific more effectively and efficiently, bolster Pacific regionalism and expand opportunities with the world.

However, experts have said the move was a “desperate” attempt to curb China’s influence in the region.

Speaking to Stuff, director of Canterbury University’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, Professor Steven Ratuva​ said: “It looks like the US is pretty desperate at the moment, to join the party.”

Ratuva​ said the moves from the US was not unexpected because the country would have been watching what was happening in the Pacific with the growth of Chinese influence.