Suva, FIJI – January 28, 2021: 6pm (PIFS/Nuku’alofa Times): The European Union (EU) and the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS) have signed a new project worth EUR5.75 million (equivalent to FJD$14.3 million) to enhance the trade capacity of Pacific countries.
Tonga is one of the countries that could benefit from the assistance.
The project, titled “Strengthening Pacific Intra -Regional and International Trade (SPIRIT)” (SPIRIT), aims to boost and increase intra-regional and international trade by strengthening institutional and technical capacity in the region.
It will facilitate the implementation of trade agreements, in particular the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and of the Pacific’s Aid-for-Trade Strategy 2020-2025. SPIRIT will also contribute to the development of a statistical monitoring framework that will foster greater regional economic integration.
In her remarks, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor said “the implementation of SPIRIT will ease trade challenges faced by the Pacific ACP countries and focus on creating opportunities to trade regionally and internationally”.
Most importantly, it will strengthen the capacities of trade departments in the region through the provision of a technical position at the sub-regional level in each of the three sub-regions in the Pacific.”
The announcement outlines the significant partnership and commitment between the EU and the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat in advancing the Pacific countries’ benefits from trade agreements by promoting their efficient and streamlined implementation. Three Long-Term Trade advisers will be deployed in the sub-regions of Melanesia (including Timor-Leste), Micronesia and Polynesia to assist with the development and implementation of trade and investment policies. These Trade Advisers will also deliver a range of capacity-building and training initiatives to the Pacific countries.
The Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific, Sujiro Seam said the European Union is not only a development partner for the Pacific, it is also the best success story of regional trade and economic integration following the Second World War.
“With a market of 500 million consumers, the European Union is a business partner for the Pacific. This SPIRIT project comes at the right time, to alleviate the catastrophic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Pacific economies, build value and growth in the region and take advantage of the business opportunities offered in the European market.”
The Pacific ACP benefitting from the initiative are Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.