Pacific at the Fourth Global Review of Aid for Trade

Caption: PNG?s Minister for Trade, Hon. Richard Maru; Director General of WTO, Pascal Lamy; Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fonotoe Lauofo at the Pacific Breakfast event, held in the margins of the 4thGlobal Review of Aid for Trade, in Geneva. ?

Pacific Island Forum countries outlined their key Aid for Trade priorities during the Fourth Global Review of Aid for Trade, which concluded on 10 July in Geneva, Switzerland.

High level participants from the Pacific included the Honourable Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, and the Honourable Richard Maru, Minister of Trade, Commerce and Industry of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The Fourth Global Review featured a special Pacific session, which considered Aid for Trade?s role in helping the Pacific Islands private sector to connect with regional and global value chains to increase trade.

Pacific Island economies face inherent supply-side constraints that are preventing them from fully harnessing the opportunities offered by trade liberalisation. The Pacific?s unique challenges of geographical remoteness, small size, and limited natural and human resources have curtailed its integration into the global trading system.

The panelists on the Pacific session focused on Aid for Trade?s role in assisting Pacific economies overcome the constraints and connect to value chains. National and regional experiences with AfT initiatives were discussed, as well as the role of trade in empowering rural communities.

During the panel discussion, the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa spoke about the progress his country is making in connecting to tourism value chains. He outlined steps to foster links to regional hotel chains; the Government?s decision to sign an agreement to establish a joint venture airline to improve air services between Samoa, Australia and New Zealand; and his Government?s marketing of Samoa as an international conference venue.

?Tourism in Samoa is a very important sector. It accounts for approximately 25% of Samoa?s Gross Domestic Product, and is growing at an average rate of 3.42% per annum since 2007. A marketing strategy has been developed to rebrand Samoa as a tourist location promoting the ?Samoan Experience,? Deputy Prime Minister Lauofo stated.

?Connecting all the key actors from the airline carriers, travel agents, inbound tour operators, farmers, and infrastructure to transport is critical to the success of the tourism industry?, the Deputy Prime Minister added.

PNG?s Minister for Trade, Hon. Richard Maru emphasised the need for his country to move up the value chain and to capture more value addition domestically prior to the products being exported.

?The current Government is committed towards seeing value added to our raw products from the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and mining sectors in order for the country to generate sustainable revenue, and at the same time create employment opportunities for our people, particularly those in rural areas,? Hon. Maru said.

?The Fisheries industry is losing significant value as most of its catch is processed offshore. Appropriate Aid for Trade could assist in developing productive capacity in this sector to process fisheries products in the Pacific before they are exported,? said Hon. Maru.

Pacific participants in the Fourth Global Review also highlighted the importance of regional solutions to boosting the Pacific?s trade and fostering economic integration. The important role of the Pacific Regional Aid for Trade Strategy, which is undergoing a ?renew and refresh? process was also underlined. Extensive consultation on the revision of the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy is currently ongoing, and a finalised Strategy is expected to be available by August 2013.

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