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PICTA Trade in Services Protocol
The Economic Governance Programme extends and coordinates policy advice and technical assistance in support of inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.

The PICTA TIS Protocol is in line with the desire and vision of Pacific leaders for a more closely integrated region, with enhanced economic growth and increased employment opportunities for the people of Pacific Island Countries (PICs).

The general aim of services agreements is to regulate measures affecting intra-regional trade in services – including health services such as health insurance, hospital services, telemedicine and the acquisition of medical treatment abroad.

The PICTA TIS Protocol was endorsed by FIC Leaders and opened for signature on 28 August 2012. To date, 9 countries have signed the Protocol: the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The objectives of the Pacific Island Countries under the PICTA TIS Protocol is to promote growth and development within their economies, and reduce poverty through this framework which facilitates the progressive liberalization of trade in services amongst the members and strengthening their capacity to regulate services, in particular in sectors of special importance to their development, giving effect to the principle of special and differential treatment and respecting national policy objectives; filtering economic integration within the region with a view to the eventual creation of a single regional market among the Pacific Island Countries in accordance with their respective social and economic objectives; and contributing to the integration of their economies into the global economy.

The PICTA TIS specifically regulates measures affecting intra-regional trade in three sectors of priority to the region, notably tourism, transportation and business services. The removal of regulatory barriers to other additional services sectors may be pursued in future negotiations.

Tourism and Travel

For PICs, the removal of regulatory barriers to its tourism and travel related sector would induce positive impacts such as income generation, telecommunications and infrastructure development. Tourism also has an impact on employment, especially the hotel and catering industry. The removal of regulatory barriers to the tourism sector will attract more intra-regional tourism development projects amongst PICs. It would generate new job opportunities for many Pacific Islands (including women and youth) and improve their standard of living.

Transport

The planned opening of transport routes (maritime and shipping) to previously inaccessible areas is anticipated to enable rural participation in the formal economy. The positive social impacts of creating new international routes, hubs, ports and invariably new commercial centers, could provide long-term employment prospects, while also opening the traffic of both passenger and freight transportation to rural areas in PICs. The maritime transport sector in Kiribati, for example, is of great importance due to the geographical layout and scattered nature of the islands. Maintaining the minimum maritime services in Kiribati is an ongoing challenge, and an issue that could potentially be addressed through PICTA TIS.

Business Services

The business services sector is a significant source of employment in Fiji. Further removal of regulatory barriers in the sector would mean greater movement of professional workers across PICs for better paying jobs. Many private and public sector corporations have improved their performance from utilizing the services of professionals like accountants, financial, legal and management consultants. They have also contributed to improved accountability, sound financial management and good corporate governance. These desirable impacts can be furthered through the PICTA Trade in Services and reduce the negative perceptions of the region regarding transparency, accountability and governance. 

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