The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser (OCTA) and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat have announced increased coordination in the implementation of regional trade and investment initiatives under the auspices of the European Union funded project.
“This cooperation between the agencies is funded by the European Union and is aimed at strengthening Pacific regional integration through trade” Mr. Dirk Meganck, European Commission’s Director for Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Gulf and the Pacific said while participating at the launch. This coordination is made possible through the Pacific Integration Technical Assistance Project (PITAP) implemented by the Forum Secretariat, and funded by the European Union. The objective of PITAP is to support enhanced economic integration through increased trade and investment in the region, and is part of the Strengthening Pacific Economic Integration through Trade (SPEITT) Programme.
Under this cooperative arrangement, both the OCTA and the MSG Secretariat will receive approximately F$9m (€3.5m), shared equally between the two agencies, to implement projects under PITAP framework over the next two years.
“Given the cross-cutting nature of trade agreements and negotiations, it is important for our three agencies to collaborate and organise our actions in a coordinated manner to avoid duplication,” says Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
“The activities implemented by OCTA under this generous contribution will assist in building and strengthening the capacity of the Forum Island Countries in trade policy matters, particularly as they have reached a critical phase in the negotiations of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus,” Dr Edwini Kessie, Chief Trade Adviser on PACER Plus said.
“This project will greatly support our ongoing work in fulfilling the mandates of our leaders in enhancing regional economic integration whilst also supporting intra-MSG trade to grow further, including expansion to the services sector,” Mr Peter Forau, Director General of the MSG Secretariat stated.
“Through our joint efforts, the three agencies are committed to ensuring effective use of resources allocated for regional programmes in the area of trade and investment to deepen regional economic integration,” Mr Slade concluded. “We are grateful to the European Union for their support in funding such important initiatives in the Pacific region.”
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The overall objective of PITAP is to improve economic integration through strengthened national systems and institutional frameworks to develop trade capacity. PITAP aims to improve trade policy outcomes by building technical capacity, increasing private sector engagement in trade policy processes, increasing exports of Pacific island products and increasing investments in the region. The additional funding from the 10th European Development Fund for PITAP is of €5,900,000 bringing the total PITAP funding to €13,900,000, of which both OCTA and the MSG Secretariat will receive €1,750,000 each. The PITAP project is one of the four project components of the regional programme on Strengthening Pacific Economic Integration through Trade (SPEITT).