Government and private sector representatives from six Pacific Island Countries who are members of the World Trade Organisation (W.T.O.) are in Apia.
They are attending the first full W.T.O. Short Trade Policy Course for Pacific Island Countries. Held at the Taumeasina Island Resort, it is for two weeks.
The course aims to not only provide participants with a good foundation of the objectives, functioning, structure and basic principles of the W.T.O. but to also enhance the regional economic perspectives in trade policy and development; and provide a platform for Pacific countries to interact and exchange of trade issues of interest to the region.
The Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Lautafi Fio Purcell, opened the workshop.
Minister Lautafi encouraged all participants to utilise the opportunity to learn more about the W.T.O’s multilateral trading rules and enhance their perspectives in trade policy.
“It is important that we fully understand W.T.O. disciplines and principles so that we can effectively engage in policy discussions and formulation that will benefit and contribute to the development of our small economies,” Lautafi said.
He highlighted the need to understand developments in international trade and the role of the W.T.O. as the global trade rules body and how these impact regional efforts under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, the Blue Pacific narrative and the Roadmap on Sustainable Fisheries.
Dr. Luanga Mukela Faustin, Counsellor and Head of the Asia and Pacific Desk of the W.T.O. Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation, reaffirmed the W.T.O’s recognition of the Pacific specific needs.
Mere Falemaka, Permanent Representative of the Pacific Islands Forum to the W.T.O. in Geneva, stressed the importance of this capacity building activity for the region particularly as issues of Pacific interest such as fisheries subsidies are being negotiated at the W.T.O. currently.
The Course will help participants in assisting their governments on W.T.O. issues and in advancing to the higher level W.T.O. courses.