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FIJI, 15 March 2022 — The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and USAID’s Alliance for eTrade Development II (“eTrade Alliance”) held their first Pacific Islands Digital Trade Dialogue on March 4, to discuss ongoing efforts to enable Pacific businesses to engage in digital trade and develop potential pilot ideas to promote regional ecommerce development in the Pacific.
Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretary General Henry Puna in welcoming delegates stated that the objective of this Dialogue was “to accelerate implementation of the Pacific Regional Ecommerce Strategy and Roadmap by exploring evidence to mobilize American multinationals engaged in ecommerce policy areas to act as enablers of the Pacific digital journey. From digital payment systems to cross-border and last mile logistics, to ecommerce skills, progressive partnerships between multinational companies and Pacific enterprises can address the most binding constraints which prevent entrepreneurs from capitalizing on their true potential as digital trade champions.”
Regina MacKenzie, Acting Deputy Mission Director at the USAID Mission to the Pacific applauded the PIF for the operationalization of the Pacific Regional Ecommerce Strategy and Roadmap, as well as the Pacific Island Governments for their initiatives to promote ecommerce in their economies, as well as the corporate partners in the eTrade Alliance for their efforts to lift, especially women-led firms, to access ecommerce globally.
Kati Suominien, the Founder and CEO of Nextrade group and the Technical Director of the eTrade Alliance, highlighted the eTrade Alliance’s role as a public-private partnership aimed to enable developing country MSMEs to engage in trade. She emphasized the Alliance’s workstreams on improving the enabling environments for ecommerce, MSME skills development for ecommerce, logistics and last-mile delivery, access to finance, and inclusive trade, and substantiated the Alliance’s work with data on the impacts of ecommerce use on MSMEs’ exports, growth, and profit margins and for leveling the playing field between women- and men-led firms that can be translated to the Pacific context.
Toleafoa Nella Tavita-Levy, Assistant CEO of Trade at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Samoa, provided insight on why ecommerce is important for Samoa. Ms. Tavita-Levy shared her perspectives on how the public sector is advancing ecommerce innovation.
One pilot project that the eTrade Alliance is considering in the Pacific concerns Samoa. Google Plus Codes have had initial discussions with regional ecommerce companies to implement Plus Codes technology solutions that are easily adopted by customers to enhance last mile logistics. The Samoa pilot would work with both ecommerce customers and also government agencies that can help streamline technology across platforms. Ms. Tavita-Levy noted the alignment between this potential pilot and the recommendations in the 2017 Samoa eTrade Readiness Assessment.
eTrade Alliance partners like DHL, Mastercard, Google, and Visa are also exploring other exciting pilot projects in the Pacific region, and will use key takeaways from this Dialogue to inform their approaches to improving the ecommerce ecosystem in the Pacific Islands. –-ENDS