At the invitation of the Government of Tonga, the Forum Secretariat is in Nuku’alofa this week to undertake consultations with government, private sector and line ministries to inform Tonga’s engagement in the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA).
The PICTA is an intra-regional trade agreement, which was signed in 2001, came into force in 2003, and became operational in 2007. To date, Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Kiribati have announced their readiness to trade under the agreement.
This week is an opportunity to assess the domestic arrangements that need to be put in place by the Tongan Government to facilitate businesses to effectively trade goods and services under PICTA. The team will also look at Tonga’s commitments under the PICTA Trade in Services Protocol, and the PICTA Temporary Movement of Natural Persons Framework.
The week began at the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade Innovation and Labour and a courtesy call on the Minister for Trade and Economic Development the Hon. Dr. Tevita Tui’i Uata. Other meetings included a courtesy call on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and discussions with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
This work is part of the Pacific ACP Leaders call for the Secretariat to undertake a comprehensive review of Member’s commitments under trade-related agreements, noting that the PICTA framework should provide for deeper economic integration among the Forum Island Countries.