Discovering Pacific Trade Potential in Geneva

The Pacific was brought to life to over 400 VIP guests including trade and development ministers, government officials, heads of multilateral and development agencies, and representatives of the private sector and civil society on the banks of Lake Leman, Geneva at the “Discovering Pacific Trade Potential” evening reception earlier this month.

The “Discovering Pacific Trade Potential” promotional function which focused primarily on the Pacific Islands Least Developing Countries (LDCs), was mounted as a side event of the 5th Global Review of Aid for Trade held from 30 June to 2 July. The evening program showcased Pacific creativity, innovation and vibrancy; offering guests a taste of Pacific Islands’ culture, arts and cuisine.

The evening’s highlights included: the exhibition of three stunning new acrylic on canvas artworks from renowned Samoan artist, Lalovai Peseta; a central exhibition presenting popular Solomon Islands artists Aldio Pita and Ralph Rav’s culturally and environmentally inspired block prints on hand made paper; and a Pacific tourism visual image display provided by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO). Pacific atmosphere was provided by the sounds of Melanfunk band, Tribe of Jubal.


Caption 1: Samoan artist Lalovai Peseta's "Blue No More II" (2014) on exhibition at the WTO Geneva

The exhibition of the Pacific experience had its challenges. Ms Robyn Ekstrom, Trade Promotion Adviser with Pacific Islands Trade & Invest – Europe attested to this. “While everyone enjoyed themselves in true Pacific style, the process of sourcing and organising products to serve and showcase at this Pacific event illustrated on a very practical level, the barriers that our Pacific Islands exporters face in trading in global markets.”

“There were many delicacies we would have loved to serve our international guests, such as the fabulous spicy Kiribati tuna sausages but without access to a competent authority, we couldn’t bring them into Europe. We recognise that while progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to do to address the high costs and technical barriers to trade.



Caption 2:  The UK based Beats of Polynesia dance troupe entertain international dignitaries at the “Discovering Pacific Trade Potential” function in at the WTO in Geneva.

The event was made possible through cooperation and partnership among Pacific Islands Trade & Invest(PT&I) – Europe, the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) which kindly provided funding.

Guests including the WTO Director General, Mr Roberto Azevedo, Mr Ratnakar Adhikari Executive Director of the EIF, Ambassador of Australia to the WTO His Excellency Hamish McCormick, Minister of Public Enterprises of Samoa Hon Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell and Senior Pacific delegates were welcomed with a rousing performance by the United Kingdom based Beats of Polynesia dance troupe and ice cold Tusker from Vanuatu Brewing and Samoa’s own Vailima beer were on hand to provide much needed refreshment.

Background information:
Four Pacific Island Countries, namely Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu fall into the Pacific LDC category while Samoa had recently graduated in 2014. There is growing recognition that the Pacific Island Countries face many trade challenges in trying to gain market access for their exports. The Pacific LDCs are further disadvantaged by their limited trade capacity and infrastructure and limited range of exports. However, some of the Pacific LDCs are producing innovative products that have significant potential for commercialisation and export.

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