Aid for Trade Strategy and Related Assistance

Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy (PAfTS) 2020-2025

PAfTS was endorsed by Forum Trade Ministers on 13 February 2020 and aims to establish a handful of trade policy priorities for the region. These will inform the Secretariat’s technical assistance to Members and efforts to develop regional AfT projects by complementing national aid for trade needs. The Secretariat will also mobilise its AfT expertise in Geneva to support Members with those priorities identified in the Strategy, whilst ensuring that AfT projects are Member-driven, address priorities and avoid donor duplication.

Briefly the PAfTS is guided by four principles:

  • strategic regional impact;
  • prioritisation;
  • leveraging existing policies and mechanisms; and
  • ownership.

In-line with these principles, the strategy focuses on mobilising AfT projects in thematic priority areas of services sector, e-commerce, comprehensive connectivity and deepening Forum markets.

Key components of Aid for Trade:


E-commerce increases the potential to narrow distances and trade costs, and to promote diversification of Pacific economies. In this COVID-19 era, the ability of Pacific businesses to trade electronically has become even more important. Electronic sale of good and services is one of the few economic activities that has grown exponentially in 2020, driven by the need to implement social distance measures. Even when lockdowns and border closures will be lifted, new online buying and selling habits are due to stay. Strengthening E-commerce sectors for the Forum Island Countries (FICs) is essential to COVID-proof Pacific economies and ensure their future growth prospects. In 2020 the PIFS developed national E-commerce Assessments for Fiji, FSM, Niue, PNG, and a Pacific Regional E-commerce Assessment. A Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap for implementation will be developed in in 2021 for considerations by Members.

Quality Infrastructure

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of enhancing production and export of high-quality goods and services for Forum Island Countries (FICs) to global markets.

Under the Pacific Quality Infrastructure Initiative (PQII), endorsed by Forum Trade Ministers in February 2020, the PQII sets out provisions for compliance with higher standards for Pacific goods and services. This is not only essential to support FIC long-term development aspirations, but also to recover quickly from the devastating economic impacts of severe global events such as the global pandemic as well as climate change.

In 2020, the PIFS coordinated the PQII and secured resources for its partial implementation. The PQII project managed by the PIFS and funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) with co-funding by DFAT, EU-PRISE, and BMZ-PTB will produce outcomes in the areas of QI governance, QI institutions, QI services, and Quality Culture. The overall objective is the Enhanced Economic Prosperity and People Centred Development; the specific purpose is a strengthened, demand-oriented QI that increases trade competitiveness in the Pacific region, with a particular focus on Pacific LDCs Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Key priorities include developing  and strengthening quality standards and technical regulations, governance systems, testing and certification, and value chains. The project has duration of 3 years (2020-23) with a budget of USD 2.77 million.

The Secretariat will continue to mobilize additional resources to extend further assistance to all Forum Island Countries, and to coordinate projects of all the PQII’s partners, including the expected projects by the United Nationals Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

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