Copyright: Commonwealth Secretariat
18 January 2013
Meeting will aid countries in developing policies and trade deals that create jobs, raise standards of living and boost economic growth
The Commonwealth is organising a workshop for countries in the Pacific region to enhance their capacity to formulate effective trade policies and boost participation in regional and international trade negotiations.
The workshop in Port Vila, Vanuatu, from 4 to 8 February 2013 will draw participants from Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Niue, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Republic of Marshall Islands.
It will be jointly hosted by the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser, which advises these thirteen Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) countries in negotiations to improve their regional trading under the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus. The PACER Plus negotiations, launched by Pacific leaders in 2009, help PIF countries benefit from regional trade and economic integration.
The workshop will be attended by senior officials responsible for trade policy analysis and negotiations.
“The workshop will also provide an opportunity for the Commonwealth to present a summary of its analytical work on the fiscal impact of PACER Plus and to demonstrate how trade data and policy analysis tools can be utilised by negotiators. In addition, a Commonwealth guide for small states negotiators will be presented, highlighting successful approaches that can be used to help these capacity constrained economies to leverage successful outcomes, despite their size,” said Veniana Qalo, Acting Head of International Trade and Regional Co-operation at the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Ms Qalo explained that the objective is to enable countries to develop sound policies and agree trade deals that create jobs, enhance private sector growth, raise standards of living, and boost economic growth.
Head of Technical Co-operation and Strategic Response at the Secretariat, Tim Newman, said the workshop complements support the Commonwealth is giving to PIF member countries through the provision of technical experts to assist in the implementation of the PACER Plus initiative.
“Ultimately, we would like to enhance the capacity of the institutions of member countries in the region to ensure the sustainability of our trade support projects in the region,” Mr Newman said.
Small states members in the Pacific region are currently involved in simultaneous free trade negotiations at national, regional and international levels, but face enormous capacity constraints in accessing reliable information and simulating data and analysis to create jobs and improve livelihoods.
“Small states face unique challenges such as remoteness, small size, and limited options for diversification, as well as capacity and skills constraints. These make them vulnerable and limit their ability to effectively take advantage of the benefits of globalisation. The Commonwealth continues to be a champion of their interests,” Ms Qalo added.
The Commonwealth has a long history of working with member states in the Pacific region to support their democracy, development and governance agenda. In 2010, for example, the Commonwealth Pacific Governance Facility was launched to promote good governance for effective development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Communications and Public Affairs Division