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As well as its role in harmonising regional positions on various political and policy issues, the Forum Secretariat has technical programmes in economic development, transport and trade.

Talagi emphasised, however, that Fiji had not been expelled and that it would be welcomed back into the fold when it returned to the path of "constitutional democracy, through free and fair elections".

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat was established initially as a trade bureau in 1972 and later became the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation (SPEC).

Australia and New Zealand are generally larger and wealthier than the other countries that make up the rest of the forum, Australia's population is around twice that of the other 17 members combined and its economy is more than five times larger.

They are significant aid donors and big markets for exports from the other countries.

These six are Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

At the 19–20 August 2008 Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Niue, the leaders discussed Pacific Plan priorities including, “fisheries, energy, trade and economic integration, climate change and transport, in addition to information and communication technology, health, education, and good governance.” Leaders also discussed the impacts of climate change and adopted the Niue Declaration on Climate Change.

All of the signing states have ratified the treaty, with the exception of Micronesia.

As of March 2008, six countries had announced that domestic arrangements had been made enabling them to trade under the agreement: After the trade agreement goes into force, countries commit to removing tariffs on most goods by 2021.

Military and police forces as well as civilian personnel of Forum states, chiefly Australia and New Zealand, have recently been part of regional peacekeeping and stabilization operations in other states, notably in Solomon Islands (2003–) and Nauru (2004–2009), under Forum auspices. territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands were granted observer status in the Pacific Islands Forum.

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