Canada’s High Commissioner, Mario Bot and their Director of Northeast Asia and Oceania Division, Christopher Burton, are on a mission in the Pacific region.
This is part of the Canadian Government’s efforts to strengthen their presence in the region through the Asia Pacific Trade and Investment Technical Assistance Facility.
This is a seven-year project that was launched at the 2016 Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia by the then Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.
They were in Samoa for two days to meet various organisations and dialogue on trade and investment technical assistance facility.
Mr. Burton, while speaking to the Samoa Observer said this is a $12 million project and it aims to support reforms to trade and investment policy and regulations.
He said they will work with Governments, regional institutions, non-governmental groups and respond accordingly to their requests for technical assistance or for funding.
“Some of the types of activities we could support would be things like training or travel expenses for a trip to another jurisdiction to meet somebody who is able to solve the problem you cannot solve.
“So we will be entertaining request for up to $500,000 at a time, but we expect most of the requests to be smaller than that,” he said.
Mr. Burton adds another purpose of their trip is to raise awareness on the project and also to receive input and feedbacks from their partners.
“We want to re-engage in a way that is honest and sustainable. We appreciate that we are not next door neighbours, we live in another town, another island, but we want to be helpful from a distance and we want to walk with you in the process of meeting challenges here.
“Although this Project will apply to all of the Asia pacific developing countries that can receive official development assistance, we have identified the pacific as a region of focus for this project.
“We certainly expect to ensure that we receive a healthy number of applications from this region and we are able to work with partners here,” he said.
He explained: “Canada is seeking to increase our presence in this region. We are looking for different ways to do that and our motivation for this is that when we look at Canadian priorities, which as you know are climate change, women empowerment and oceans.
“These are great interest for our current Government. Those match so well with the priorities and challenges facing this region that it is very natural for us to be here.
“We finalise some important points of the project like the particular types of the activities that could be supported, the application process, we want to make it as simple as possible and really respond to the needs in Samoa and we want to be a useful and convenient partner to you.”
They will also visit other Forum member countries.