REMARKS: SG Puna to Pacific E-Commerce Portal Launch, Graduation event

24 AUGUST 2022


• The Honourable Mr Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport
• Mr., Tim Yeend, Associate Secretary, Trade and Investment, DFAT Australia
• Mr., Paul Wilson, Australia’s Charge d’Affaires and Deputy High Commissioner to Fiji
• Distinguished Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps
• Senior Trade Officials
• Distinguished representatives from regional and international organisations
• Fellow graduates of the PIFS E-commerce Disciplines Course
• Ladies and Gentlemen

• I am delighted to be joining all of you this morning for this Launching of the Pacific E-commerce Portal and the Graduation Ceremony of the PIFS E-commerce Disciplines Course.

[Regional Ecommerce Strategy and 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent]
• As you will be aware, digital economies and e-Commerce have emerged as key priorities in recent years as a direct consequence of the pandemic.

• But prior to this and recognising our geographical spread in our Pacific region, our Forum Trade Ministers identified e-Commerce as one of the four priorities of the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy 2020-2025. It is also now aligned directly to the thematic area on Technology and Connectivity of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

• In endorsing the Pacific Regional Ecommerce Strategy and Roadmap in 2021, Forum Trade Ministers welcomed the clear goals and priorities to increase the Pacific’s digital readiness.

• Today marks one year since we embarked together on addressing the strategic priorities of the Pacific E-commerce Initiative, – so there is much to celebrate!

[Pacific Ecommerce Portal]
• However, as we celebrate, we must remember that challenges remain.

• Ecommerce information and data in the Pacific is near absent or scattered. Therefore, in line with the vision of the regional e-Commerce Strategy, we now present to you the Pacific E-commerce Portal, a comprehensive online repository on digital trade to ensure that:

• First, ecommerce information reaches our policymakers and all other stakeholders, in helping them making informed decisions;
• Second, pacific businesses and entrepreneurs have toolkits to help them move their operations online;
• and thirdly, our negotiators have access to high-quality trainings and data to be effective up-takers and implementers of digital trade rules.

• I welcome you all to explore and exploit the portal as we continue, in partnership with the implementing agencies of our regional strategy, to improve the information to match needs of all of us.

• It may be relatively new to most of our pacific countries, however, e-commerce negotiations have commenced at the bilateral, regional and international level, and the pacific is not exempt.

• Among the contents of our Portal, you will find the completed national assessments, the regional E-commerce Strategy and National E-commerce strategies of some of our Members.

• I congratulate Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa for launching their new e-commerce strategies that will accelerate their national and cross-border ecommerce.

• I must emphasise that the Secretariat stands ready to continue to assist our members in policy development, monitoring and evaluation, and the establishment of the Pacific E-commerce Committee that will provide an oversight on regional e-commerce work in the Pacific.

[PIFS Ecommerce Disciplines Course- Graduation]
• Now please allow me to turn to our graduates today and congratulate you all on the successful conclusion of the PIFS E-commerce Disciplines Course.

• Your countries and the wider Pacific community need people like you – policymakers that are equipped with the right skillsets including in the emerging area of e-commerce.

• I wish you all the best in your respective professional careers and PIFS looks forward to hearing news of your success in future e-commerce and trading negotiations.

• I am also pleased to announce that the training is now available in a self-paced format, right on the portal we are launching today.

[Strategic Partnership]
• To conclude, Excellencies, partners, Senior Trade officials, friends, ladies and gentlemen–strategic partnerships are critical to addressing key policy areas such as e-commerce to ensure our Pacific region fully benefits.

• The product we are launching today clearly demonstrates that there are areas where we can achieve better results by working together.

• With this in mind, I wish to convey my gratitude to our development partners particularly the Government of Australia for its kind financing and our implementing partners for your contributions directly and indirectly to the elaboration of the Pacific’s e-commerce agenda, and we look forward to working further with you to advance e-commerce in the region.

• With those few words, I thank you all and to our graduates, my sincere congratulations on this successful achievement.

• Meitaki Ma’ata, thank you.—ENDS