The Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters (S.A.M.E.) have asked for government intervention to establish a bilateral free trade agreement with Japan.
The request follows an alarming drop in Samoa’s exports to Japan from 6.5 percent in 2015 to 3.1percent this year.
The request is made in a letter from S.A.M.E’s President, Tautaituasivi Tagaloa Wilson III, to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peseta Noumea Simi.
Dated 13 October, a copy of the letter obtained by the Samoa Observer, shows that S.A.M.E is concerned about the reduction of Samoa’s export to Japan.
“The Samoan Association of Manufacturers and Exporters (SAME) is the private sector industry body for manufacturers and exporters of Samoa, respectfully request your intervention in establishing Bilateral /Free Trade Agreement with Japan to stop the reduction of our export to that country,” the letter reads.
“Earlier this year S.A.M.E has similarly requested a Bilateral /Free Trade Agreement with China for the same purposes.”
According to the President, S.A.M.E had launched the Samoa Export Plan 2016-2020 last year, which has been endorsed by the government and the private Sector. The Plan focuses on increasing exports for Samoa of domestic export commodities from an average of $36m p.a. to $100m by 2020.
“With the graduation of Samoa from its L.D.C status recently, Samoa’s exports to Japan have attracted a 19% tariff/duty,” Tautaituasivi writes.
“Our Exporters (and our people) have suffered from the reduction in trade due to this tariff imposition by Japan. This request is for the government of Samoa to immediately establish Bilateral/ Free Trade Agreement between Samoa and Japan – to “stop the bleeding” for our Samoa’s exports to Japan.”
S.A.M.E believes there is great potential for exports to Japan.
“The current and potential exports from Samoa to Japan include Nonu, Coconut; Cocoa; Ava; taro; fish; breadfruit; handicrafts and others.
“Japan and the Asian markets offer the greatest opportunity for increase growth of exports from Samoa. These commodities are key exports for Samoa’s Export Plan. In December 2015 Samoa’s exports to Japan represented 6.5%, as of August 2017 this is now down to 3.1%(C.B.S).
S.A.M.E blames the current tariff on export products from Samoa to China.
“The current tariff rates payable on imported nonu; coconut and cocoa products into Japan is 19% -which has resulted in a reduction of our exports in Japan, which is a very competitive market.”
But President Tautaituasivi is optimistic.
“The proposed Bilateral/ Free Trade Agreement with Japan will reduce the increasing trade deficit between the two countries, increase exports, enhance the livelihood of at least 80per cent of the Samoan population, and develop our economic capacity. We look forward to favourable response.”
It was not possible to get a comment from the C.E.O of M.F.A.T yesterday.
Copied on S.A.M.E’s letter are the Acting Prime Minister, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour and the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.