The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has been in Honiara, Solomon Islands this past week for a scoping mission ahead of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Accession Process.
The mission included consultations with various ministries and agencies including the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and External Trade for the purposes of assessing Institutional strengthening, policy and regulatory reforms within the context of the Interim EPA.
The consultations were held with Jill Atieno Juma, a Trade Adviser for the Hubs & Spokes II Programme based at the Forum Secretariat.
Ms Juma met with Dr. Melchior Mataki, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Climate and Disaster Management; discussions centered around the need for more Government agencies to be sensitised on the pros and cons of the EPA, including the need for trade negotiators in Honiara to tackle three core issues (Trade and Waste Management, particularly in the case of Imports; Climate Mitigation and Trade; and The Link between, Climate Change ,Trade and Development especially within the context of Climate Financing) as far as the linkages between trade, environment and climate change were concerned.
In a meeting with the Deputy British High Commissioner, Honiara, Paul J.Dryden , the discussion evolved around Brexit and post-IEPA accession issues. There was discussion on the introduction of a services component in future: the UK would have interest primarily in the Financial Services Sector. Trade Policy Adviser (Hubs and Spokes) is to develop a Strategy Paper and funding outsourced from DFID amongst other development partners.
The Forum Secretariat will continue its technical support to Honiara around its Market Access Offers before submission for accession; this will be in addition to the requested Regulatory/ Policy Reforms and Institutional Strengthening, captured in the recommendations of Solomon’s National Trade Policy.
Ms Juma supported the design of a capacity-building framework that would address the issue of trade and waste management in the context of the IEPA.
Ms Juma also met with Solomons Chamber of Commerce management and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) officials. Consultations with MFAET were held with Director, George Tuti; Chief Trade Development Officer, Natalia Patternot; and EU –National Authorizing Officer (NAO) Clara Weokea; discussions centered on Solomon Islands’ IEPA Accession Progress noting that there was a need for institutional strengthening.