Four officials from the Solomon Islands Government have completed capacity building exchange with a number of Fiji agencies handling trade and trade-related issues.
Closing the peer learning attachment, Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Shaheen Ali, said “This peer learning is setting the platform for deeper integration amongst the Pacific countries. We will be able to align systems and processes amongst the Pacific countries starting with trade data. This will allow for greater coherence amongst us.”
This marks the first peer attachment program focused on trade policy development in the Pacific region and is a result of recommendations emanating from the Solomon Islands National Trade Policy Framework established in 2015. The Framework was formulated with assistance from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
The request from Solomon Islands for this attachment underscores its commitment to expand its trade potential and generate economic growth. The challenge for Solomon Islands, said High Commissioner Oti, ‘will be to put into practice all that has been learnt during the attachment.’
The Secretary General of the PIFS Dame Meg Taylor acknowledged the Fijian Government for its leadership in supporting trade policy focused peer to peer learning saying, “The Pacific has a long history of working together and helping each other. Within Forum countries there is a wealth of experience and this attachment is a great example of what can be done. Fiji makes a significant contribution to trade in the Pacific and using its Trade Policy Framework as the guiding document, Fiji has increased its markets and reformed its domestic trade regulatory environment with a view to streamlining its business trading environment. Fiji has a wealth of experience that it can share with the wider Pacific family.”
The 10 day attachment was made possible with funding from the European Union in its support of regional economic integration in the Pacific. Speaking at the closing ceremony, Mr Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific, said: “The EU is proud to have previously supported Fiji and Solomon Islands develop their first trade policy frameworks through the Pacific Integration Technical Assistance Project (PITAP), implemented by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. This innovative peer-to-peer training programme aims at strengthening trade data management skills, which are essential for the effective implementation of the recently adopted trade policy frameworks. The training and the newly formed inter-institutional networks will promote closer coordination between key institutions in Fiji and Solomon Islands, thereby facilitating the progressive implementation of various trade agreements.”
The Solomon Islands Officials were hosted for two weeks at the Fiji Bureau of Statistics, the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority, the Reserve Bank of Fiji and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism.