Global quality standards edge closer for Pacific trade

 PIFS, Suva, Wed 26 November, 2020 COVID-19’s impact on global trade has not slowed focus from Pacific nations keen to implement a regional partnership helping Forum Island Countries to enhance production and export of high-quality goods and services.

Initiated by Pacific trade officials in 2017, the Pacific Quality Infrastructure Initiative, PQII, was endorsed with a roadmap by Forum Trade Ministers in February 2020. Ministers tasked the Forum Secretariat to mobilise and coordinate partners and resources around its priorities.

By October 2020, PIFS had signed a USD 1.5m grant agreement with a multi-donor facility, the Enhanced Integrated Framework. The funds will go towards the Initiative’s priorities, focused on Pacific Least Developed Countries, and will be managed jointly with those already committed by Australia, the European Union and Germany.

A team of three staff  will be engaged to support the Initiative, led by PQII Coordinator Dr Ulrich Diekmann, agronomist and former coordinator at the metrology institutes of Germany and Australia. Dr Diekmann is to provide technical leadership to the regional initiative which expects to roll out activities from 2021, with Standards Australia and the National Measurement Institute of Australia as key implementing partners. Work supporting production and export of high-quality goods and services from Forum Members will include, for example, developing and strengthening standards and technical regulations, governance systems, testing and certification, and value chains.

PIFS, UNCTAD and UNIDO are working to develop complementary programs which will also be run under the umbrella of the Pacific Quality Infrastructure Initiative.–

Reflecting on the Pacific Quality Infrastructure Initiative Dame Meg Taylor, PIFS’ Secretary General, noted that “far from impeding our progress, COVID-19 has strengthened our resolve to move ahead with what has emerged as a signature initiative of the Pacific Aid-for-Trade Strategy 2020-2025. The ability to set and provide compliance with higher standards for Pacific goods and services is not only essential to support our long-term development aspirations, but also to recover quickly from the devastating economic impacts of this global pandemic”.–ENDS

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