The government is working with the private sector to simplify trade procedures in order to move goods, more efficiently, across borders.
This is the aim of a two-day training on National Trade Facilitation held at the Small Businesses Enterprise Center (S.B.E.C) at Le Sanalele Complex.
Organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the International Trade Center, the training is attended by representatives of the private sector, government and other bodies who stand to benefit from the Trade Facilitation Agreement which came into force in February 2017.
Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Chamber of Commerce, Lemauga Hobart Va’ai, said the sole purpose is to improve the facilitation of trade.
“Most of the government ministries are in this room. If we think about trade nowadays, it’s very expensive for us,” he said.
Lemauga said it’s all about understanding trade and seeing if our trade facilitation process can be sped up at a cheaper cost.
Mohammad Saeed, Senior Trade Facilitation Adviser, and Victoria Tuomisto, Associate Expert in Trade Facilitation and Policy for Business from Geneva are in Samoa for the training.
“This workshop is to discuss with the borderline authorities and the private businesses on how they can benefit from this agreement,” said Mr. Saeed.
The agreement, he said, targets faster and easier clearance of border procedures so that the goods can be exported with ease and similarly imported with ease.
He said there is a lot of room for improvement in Samoa.
“It’s not just here in Samoa though; all countries in the world have this need to improve. Samoa is doing good in terms of time but still, in terms of the cost, they need to see where they can improve those costs.”
The two-day workshop is also an opportunity for Mr. Saeed and his colleagues to learn from Samoa’s experience.
“One objective is for the businesses to realize that they have to actively interact with their government to tell them what their problems are,” he said.
Another part of the workshop was giving participants exercises in computing trade facilitation costs.
“These activities are in the same direction because the costs are the difficulties which they face.
“So they should start thinking on those lines that not all are needed, we have to be vivid Samoans, we are competing with our regional partners and we are competing with others and we need to be more involved with our government.”
Mr. added that part of the workshop is to find ways to solve problems businesses encounter on a daily basis.
“For example, if the government decides to bring in a new procedure, this agreement says that for bringing in a new procedure, the government should consult the businesses that this is the change that we are to bring and then listen to them and how they will be able to implement,” he said.
“Not only that but also to seek their comments that whether they understand the language, whether they understand the procedure and how easy it would be to comply.
“Once that procedure is notified, everybody knows, then that there will be some time, a few weeks or a few months to tell the businesses that this is the time and you should prepare yourself, so that nothing comes as a surprise, because the government and the businesses are basically working for the county’s economy.”