This week, the World Bank Group (W.B.G.) with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (M.F.A.T.) and the Ministry of commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.) conducted a two-day workshop as a follow-up of their support in the implementation of the World Trade Organization (W.T.O.), Trade Facilitation Agreement (T.F.A.).
The T.F.A. requires that agencies have to publish their general trade-related requirements and to provide the information in a prompt, non-discriminatory, easily accessible and informative manner.
Therefore this workshop served to set those discussions and map out how best to harmonize the availability of trade-related information and access to systems; to facilitate trade and overall improve business environment.
The C.E.O. of the M.C.I.L. was on hand to officially open the workshop and he reiterated the importance of the workshops and how the World Bank’s mission was aligned with the Strategy for the Development of Samoa’s key outcome of improved access of the private sector to information and streamlined points of contact.
In his remarks he also touched on a previous Visioning Workshop, also facilitated by World Bank and how it considered the concept of Single Window.
“Last week’s visioning workshop considered the concept of a Single Window whereby through one single electronic submission, - permits, exemptions, approvals and the clearance of goods procedures involving multiple Government agencies could be processed at once. This is the long term goal,” said Pulotu.
But he said of immediate attention, was ensuring that the information, - the right, timely and useful trade-related information, was available to and easily accessible by users/private sector. This was the objective of the workshop.
Pulotu emphasized that Samoa needed to take a coordinated approach in order for these Trade Facilitations to work.
“We need to take a coordinated approach in managing trade facilitation interventions not only through the implementation of the W.T.O. T.F.A. but also in consideration of existing regional frameworks such as transportation links, shipping; investment promotion as well as regional and international trade arrangements that Samoa is party to.”
According to Alina Antoci, Senior Private Sector Specialist of the World Bank Group’s Pacific Trade Facilitation Technical Assistance Programme, the workshop is essentially a part of World Bank’s assistance to Samoa for implementing the W.T.O. Trade Facilitation Agreement and these workshops were born out of an assessment which World Bank conducted in 2015 for Samoa and other Pacific Island countries that are member states of W.T.O. From these assessments, World Bank identified these two out of five critical areas that Samoa needed external technical assistance with.
And they were; visioning on a National Single Window for Samoa and Harmonizing Publication of Trade-Related information.
The workshop ended on Thursday with a discussion of current Samoan Government agency information standards, where workshop participants from the Government Ministries, Private Sector and Civil Society will examine the specific article requirements against Samoa’s current state, followed by a presentation regarding Trade Portal and Web information processes. From these views and discussions, the workshop facilitators will then put these discussions into a concept paper and submit them to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.