Forum Secretariat and WTO forge improved ties

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mr Pascal Lamy and the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) yesterday in Apia, Samoa.

The MoU ensures renewed commitment between the WTO and the Forum Secretariat to collaborate in supporting the Pacific island countries in building their trade-related capacity.

“The Forum Secretariat is our key partner in the Pacific region. Through this MoU, the two organisations will work together to provide trade-related technical assistance to the Forum Island Countries of the Pacific Islands Forum. The MoU extends the long-standing cooperation between the two organisations, which commenced in 2000,” Director-General Pascal Lamy stated.

Mr Lamy is visiting the Pacific islands region for the first time as Director-General. His visit concludes a significant year for Forum Island Countries in the World Trade Organisation. Samoa became WTO’s 155th Member on 10 May 2012, while Vanuatu became the 157th Member on 24 August 2012, after over a decade of accession negotiations. Samoa and Vanuatu join Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tonga, the Pacific’s other WTO Members.

“The Forum Secretariat and the WTO will partner to conduct training and technical assistance activities at the regional level. This will assist Forum Island Countries enhance their institutional and human capacity in the field of trade; address trade policy issues; integrate more fully into the multilateral trading system; exercise the rights and obligations of WTO membership; and fully participate in multilateral trade negotiations,” Secretary General, Tuiloma Neroni Slade confirmed.

“The WTO and Forum Secretariat will work jointly to develop a programme of activities on an annual basis, based on the priority needs of the Pacific,” Director-General Lamy confirmed.

“The first activity under the new MoU will be a week-long Regional Short Trade Policy Course in early 2013. The course will be run in conjunction with the University of the South Pacific and will involve a broad range of participants, from Pacific trade ministries, the private sector and civil society,” Secretary General Slade added.

This partnership will also complement important trade integration efforts at the regional level in the Pacific, including the key trade priorities of the Pacific Plan.

Director-General Lamy will continue his visit of the Pacific and will arrive in Vanuatu on 29 November 2012.

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For media enquiries, contact:

Mr Johnson Honimae, the Forum Secretariat’s Public Affairs Officer on phone +679 331 2600 or email: johnsonh@forumsec.org.fj

Mr. Luis V. Ople, Senior Information Officer, Information and External Relations Division at WTO on telephone +41 22 7395374 or e-mail: Luis.Ople@wto.org