Trade reforms essential during pandemic: Matafeo

By Adel Fruean 27 November 2021, 7:41PM

Putting in place the correct trade facilitation measures will not only boost trade but also improve revenue collection as well as ensure safety and security controls.

That’s the view of the Ministry of Revenue and Customs C.E.O. Matafeo Avalisa Viali-Fautua'alii when discussing the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on world trade including that of Samoa and how her Ministry has had to adapt to the new working environment.

In a statement issued by the Ministry, Matafeo said the M.C.R. has faced significant challenges over the past two years during the pandemic.

“In addition to our normal operations, we ought to be ensuring that proper measures are in place to facilitate clearance of goods, medical and critical supplies and the safety of our frontline officers is maintained,” she said.

Despite the challenges, the C.E.O. said the Ministry continued to roll out reforms to enable businesses to continue to trade.

“And some of these initiatives include procurement of container x-ray scanner; accreditation of Phase 1 of authorised Economic Operator Project; coordinated approach to border security and capacity building of staff and stakeholders,” she said.

“I believe that as we pursue the correct implementation of trade facilitation measures this will not only boost trade, but also improve revenue collection, safety and security controls.” 

Matafeo’s announcement of the new measures come on the back of a collaboration between the Ministry and the P.A.C.E.R. Plus Implementation Unit (P.P.I.U.) through a half-day workshop run early in the week. 

The workshop’s objective was to sensitise customs stakeholders on the benefits and implications of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (P.A.C.E.R. Plus).  

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the workshop was held in hybrid format hosted in Apia, Samoa.

The workshop also aimed to equip participants with information to enable them to take advantage of P.A.C.E.R. Plus and capitalise on the opportunities to enhance trade in the various aspects provided by the agreement.

More than 60 participants attended the workshop from across the public and private sector in Samoa with the Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, Emily Luck and her New Zealand colleague Dr. Trevor Matheson addressing the workshop participants.

The head of the P.P.I.U. Roy Lagolago also addressed the participants.

Some of the key messages that were provided during the workshop focused on the objective of P.A.C.E.R Plus to enhance development cooperation while stimulating economic growth through cooperation between the parties by supporting improved trade and investment in the Pacific region.  

An overview of the historic events and cooperation between the governments of Australia, New Zealand and Samoa at the bilateral and multilateral level, which would continue into the future, was one of the highlights of the address. 

The speakers also emphasised the need for Samoa to work together as public and private sector agencies under P.A.C.E.R. Plus in order to address connectivity and trade-related challenges and develop new and innovative solutions to facilitate access to markets and support economic recovery. 

The workshop participants were also encouraged to capitalise on the capacity building opportunities offered by the P.P.I.U. across the different technical areas of the agreement.

During the workshop the participants were given the opportunity to ask questions and make contributions on P.A.C.E.R. Plus implementation on how the government – through the various Ministries and enterprises and the P.P.I.U. – can assist with their implementation efforts on the agreement.

A number of recommendations were proposed in which both the M.C.R. and partner agencies will take into account during implementation of activities, inclusive of the needs indicated on the capacity building space to ensure the private sector’s preparedness to trade and utilise the opportunities that are available.

The P.A.C.E.R. Plus agreement of which Samoa is a signatory came into force in December 2020 and the Parties have established the P.A.C.E.R. Plus Implementation Unit based in Samoa to facilitate the implementation of the Development and Economic Cooperation Work Programme funded by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand which will assist P.A.C.E.R. Plus parties to implement the Agreement.

By Adel Fruean 27 November 2021, 7:41PM
Samoa Observer

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