Director of the Department of Trade in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Barrett Salato has refuted claims by the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry, SICCI, that the department is not providing adequate consultative mechanisms for the private sector in trade negotiation processes.
Mr Salato said a recent statement by SICCI over the media is puzzling considering the number of consultations that his department has carried out with the chamber.
The SICCI had issued a statement last week expressing its concerns at the lack of support for the private sector in the consultation process in Trade Negotiations.
Chief Executive Officer, Jerry Maiki Tengemoana highlighted, the chamber and its members were not pleased with the consultations and expressed displeasure- there was no proper explanation on what the private sector stands to gain from the agreement.
However, Mr Salato said, the Department of External Trade always strives to keep the private sector informed of progressions and incorporate their input into negotiating positions which is adequately reflected in the department’s consultative and information dissemination activities over the past year.
He said, while the External Trade Department welcome constructive criticisms, it believes these claims lack a substantive basis and serve to undermine rather than support the consultative processes.
Mr Salato further elaborated, the Department of External Trade is currently engaged in negotiations alongside 12 other Forum Island Countries with Australia and New Zealand on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations, PACER Plus.