The Fijian Government’s effort to enhance Fiji’s international trade, through trade and regulatory reforms, addressing supply side capacity and investing in trade-related infrastructure, was the focus of the Trade Development Committee (TDC) meeting, held on 21February 2013.
The TDC is the Inter-departmental Committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, which includes key government, private sector and non-government organisations and is the focal point for Fiji’s trade policy and trade negotiations.
“The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the project on the ‘Development of a Consolidated Aid-for-Trade (AfT) Matrix’, which has been commissioned by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. This project will assist Fiji to identify and prioritise its trade development and capacity needs in relation to the trade agreements Fiji is a party to or is negotiating”, said the Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Mr. Shaheen Ali.
Trade-related infrastructure such as ports and roads, health and food safety agency and Fiji’s customs administration were some of the key areas identified for further strengthening and capacity building.
While Fiji is one of the more vibrant economies in the Pacific ACP region, the meeting heard that the cost of doing business in Fiji could be made more internationally competitive, to facilitate and support trade and enhance economic growth.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade, with the support of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, is assisting the Fijian stakeholders to identify and prioritise their trade-related needs in the context of the interim and comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) in goods and the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement.
In particular, the project will assist Fiji to develop a matrix of activities based on its national and regional priorities. The project will also develop project proposals with cost outlines and programme details that can be used to secure additional Aid-for-Trade resources from our partners.
The meeting heard that Fiji was a signatory to the interim EPA and was also negotiating the comprehensive EPA with the European Union along with the other 13 Pacific ACP States (PACPS). This project would assist Fiji and the other PACPS in advancing negotiations with the European Union on the development cooperation provisions under the EPA. It will also assist in securing additional Aid-for-Trade resources from other development partners.
“The EPA can also provide the platform for enhancing Fiji’s integration into world trade by boosting production, supply, trading capacity, foreign direct investments. It also be a vehicle to biuld capacity in regulatory, policy making and trade facilitation mechanisms. This project will not only assist Fiji to identify the gaps in trade development (Aid-for-Trade) needs but will also improve aid coordination and effectiveness and mobilize resources to address these needs”, said the Permanent Secretary for Industry & Trade.
The meeting heard that there was still time for other stakeholders to give their inputs and share their views with the Ministry and the consultants appointed to undertake this work, as one-to-one consultations with stakeholders will continue until next week.