The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade hosted an introductory session on Wednesday 28th April 2021 to kick off consultations for the Rapid Needs Assessment that is underway in Solomon Islands to identify the challenges and opportunities in implementing the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus. Bilateral consultations were held later in the afternoon with the respective stakeholders and will continue on the 5th and 6th of May 2021.
The PACER Plus is a trade, development and economic cooperation agreement between the Forum Island Countries (FICs), Australia and New Zealand. PACER Plus entered into force on 13 December 2020. The parties to the agreement are Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga. Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are in the process of finalising their respective ratification of the Agreement.
The assessment aims to identify early priorities in preparation for the implementation of the Development and Economic Cooperation Work Programme provided by the joint funding support of AUD25.5 million over five years by Australia and New Zealand for support towards FICs in implementing the PACER Plus.
The Government of Australia has commissioned the Institute for International Trade(IIT), of the University of Adelaide to undertake the Rapid Needs Assessments which will be conducted remotely. The consultations will also occur in other PACER Plus FICs throughout April and May to ensure the funding addresses the most critical trade related challenges shared by Pacific members.
Speaking in front of more than 40 representatives from government line ministries, private sector, development partners and non-governmental organization that were present at the venue and connecting via zoom remotely from their respective offices, the Trade Commissioner, Mr Barrett Salato within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade highlighted, ‘Trade as a development pillar is cross cutting, the various agencies represented here today each has a role in participating in or facilitating trade.’
‘This Rapid Needs Assessment will provide an avenue to update the information of trade related issues and support important for Solomon Islands to be captured in the Work Programme. Also identifying broader aid for trade activities that will strengthen institutions and address trade-related constraints. The trade-related impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as we have all felt is an important consideration to be had in these changing dynamics’.
Trade Commissioner Salato thanked the team from IIT for their support and look forward to their lead in the plenary session and upcoming consultations.