At the request of the Kiribati government, the Forum Secretariat is in Kiribati this week to undertake consultations on the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) and its Protocol on Trade in Services. Consultations also include aspects of Temporary Movement of Natural Persons (TMNP).
During the 2017 Pacific ACP Leaders Meeting, the Government of Kiribati announced its readiness to trade under PICTA which is an indication that all necessary domestic reforms are in place to ease the process through which businesses are transacted between the borders of members Parties to the agreement. This echoes the decisions of PACP Leaders calling for deeper integration in the region.
This week, the Secretariat team has been consulting with representatives from Customs on mechanisms to effectively capture data on trade flows under the agreement, uniformity of rules used to determine the origins of products requiring duty free treatment under such arrangements, making available on its website the tariffs applicable to goods traded under the agreement and in building the productive capacity of the private sector to export its products to the other seven Forum Island Countries (Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) whose businesses are successfully trading under the agreement.
To facilitate intra-regional trade and also in pursuance of the 2017 PACP Leaders’ mandate, a PICTA Rules of Origin Committee has been established to identify bottlenecks faced by the private sector in satisfying the criteria which confers origin on products it produces for duty free treatment by other PICTA Parties.
Key departments and stakeholders engaged in the development of principal service sectors that is critical in enabling trade in goods are also being consulted to enable Kiribati’s ratification of the PICTA Trade in Services Protocol. This includes core priority sectors such as business services; transport services (air and maritime) which were mandated by Trade Ministers and also several other sectors, namely communication services, construction and related engineering services, educational services, environmental services, financial services, health related and social services; and recreational, cultural and sporting services. The Secretariat is undertaking a regulatory audit and providing advisory support to assist in the finalisation of its PICTA TIS offers.
With high rates of unemployment across the region, the TMNP is envisaged as being beneficial to Kiribati in terms of providing employment opportunities, remittances, strengthening relations and capacity building through the vast experiences gained. It is anticipated that this consultation will also lead to the completion of its skills assessment report and other targeted support required to enable local enterprises to meet requirements of other PICTA Parties.