Pacific Islands at WTO Ministerial Conference


A number of issues affecting the Pacific Islands were discussed at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Tenth Ministerial Conference (MC10), which concluded in Nairobi, Kenya on 20 December. These included the mini-package on agriculture relating to export subsidies, special safeguards mechanism and public stockholding; preferential access for Least Development Countries (LDCs); fisheries subsidies and development. The WTO MC10 concluded with the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration.

“The MC10 decisions on enhanced preferential rules of origin for LDC goods and implementation of the services waiver to provide preferential access for LDC services exports and suppliers are welcomed. Members such as Solomon Islands and Vanuatu could benefit from these provisions,” said Ambassador Merewalesi Falemaka, Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Permanent Representative to the WTO.

“Further, the reaffirmation of the work on Small Vulnerable Economies (SVEs) to adopt measures for their fuller integration into the multilateral trading system is of great benefit to all the Pacific Islands” she added. The WTO Members have committed to continuing negotiations on the remaining Doha Development Agenda (DDA) issues with emphasis on development at its centre.

“It is disappointing that there were no positive outcomes on two areas of key interest for the Pacific that relate to fisheries subsidies and development,” Ambassador Falemaka said. “Of particular interest to the Pacific Members was to secure outcomes on fisheries subsidies disciplines for illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and for fishing of overfished stock, as well on proposals on development issues to provide policy space for SVEs and LDCs to enhance their trade and promote industrialisation.” she added.

Fisheries subsidies disciplines promote the sustainability of the fisheries resource which provides food, livelihoods and economic opportunities for the Pacific people. They will also contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14.6 that requires the elimination of fisheries subsidies by 2020.  Four Pacific members: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu co-sponsored a Ministerial Statement co-ordinated by New Zealand pushing for fisheries subsidies outcomes at MC10.

The Pacific WTO Members also participated at a Pacific side event held in the margins of the MC10 on the theme of ‘Promoting Sustainable Development in the Pacific Islands through Trade’ which featured a panel of Pacific Ministers and Ambassadors. Discussions focused on initiatives towards enhancing trade competitiveness and sustainable development, with a focus on renewable energy, small and micro-enterprise strengthening strategy, the role of aid for trade in developing trade policy and sectoral strategies and addressing IUU fishing.

The six Pacific Islands Forum WTO Members (Fiji, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu) participated at the MC10 assisted by the Secretariat’s WTO Office in Geneva. Fiji was appointed as spokesperson for the Group, at the Pacific Ministerial preparatory meeting before the Conference. The side event was organised jointly by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the PIF Geneva Office with support from the Australian Mission in Geneva.  The Government of Australia also provided financial assistance for Pacific island delegations’ attendance in MC10.


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