REMARKS: Hon. Faiyaz Koya, Fiji, at Pacific E-Commerce Portal Launch

Speech by the Honourable Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport at the launch event of the Pacific E-Commerce Portal
24 August 2022
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat


Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner to Fiji, Mr Paul Wilson,

Associate Secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Mr Tim Yeend,

Director of Programmes and Initiatives of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Mr Zarak Khan,

Senior Officials,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

It is my pleasure to join you this morning for the launch of the Pacific E-Commerce Portal and it is heartening to see you all participate in this event.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The COVID-19 situation has fundamentally altered the world as we know it – changing the way we think and live, including how we purchase products that we need. The shift towards e-commerce underlines the need for businesses to continually innovate to stay competitive.

For some services, e-commerce can all but eliminate the tyranny of distance facing our Pacific Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). For example, today a good consultant from a remote Pacific Island Country can easily connect to global teleworking platforms such as, “Upwork”, and compete on par with graphic consultants who reside in megacities such as Sydney or New York.

Take the example of Caroline, a young freelancer from Suva, who is rated 4.85 out of 5, on the Upwork platform. She has already completed 11 assignments and is charging USD 7 per hour for her remote data-entry work.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The example of Caroline explains very well why e-commerce was identified as a regional priority in the Pacific Aid-for-Trade Strategy 2020-2025, which was endorsed by Forum Trade Ministers in February 2020.

Regional work on e-commerce started in 2017, with diagnostic studies conducted in 11 of our member countries. These studies eventually culminated in the development Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap that was endorsed by Forum Trade Ministers in August 2021.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap charts the way forward to boost digital trade. It does so by recommending 54 Regional Measures. When implemented, these regional actions will help achieve the level of ambition set out by the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent – both in the Thematic Area of Technology and Connectivity, and in Area of People-Centered Development.

I am pleased to note that under the impetus provided by the Forum Trade Ministers mandate, several projects targeting the Strategy’s Regional Measures have already started, with agencies such as UN-ESCAP, E-Trade Alliance, Pacer Plus Implementation Unit, South Pacific Community (SPC), Pacific Trade Invest, UNCITRAL, UNCTAD, UNCDF, and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat making concentred efforts in the various policies areas.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Portal that we are launching today provides detailed information on such efforts. This information will not only benefit members who may seek support from certain technical agencies, but will also provide the foundation to monitor overall implementation of our Regional E-commerce Strategy.

I have had chance a look at the Portal and appreciate its setting and the wealth of innovative contents. The Portal has a real potential to support our public and private sector stakeholders in their online journey and I therefore, encourage all of you to visit the Portal and make good use of its resources

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finally, I wish to thank our Secretariat for developing the Pacific E-commerce Portal and many of its original contents. And more generally, for effectively coordinating with various partners working under the umbrella of our Pacific E-commerce Initiative.

I wish to also take this opportunity to congratulate the graduates of the “E-commerce Disciplines for Policy Makers” course, for successfully completing this important e training. I am aware that a few of the graduates are with us in this room and others are joining virtually. And for those of you who wish to also up skill yourselves on e-commerce policymaking, a self-paced course is also available on the portal for you to take advantage from.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The journey to becoming E-commerce Ready may sound like a simple enough process. But after interacting with many policy makers and business owners, I have also grown to recognise that it takes many smaller steps to be able to make the changes. Coordinated efforts with all our partners is the only possible way to make this journey a successful one.

The Portal that we are launching today will make this coordination easier. I am therefore, very pleased to officiate the launching of a product that will serve our regional cause and allow our businesses to transform.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you very much. –ENDS



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