Dialogue on EU-Pacific Interim Economic Partnership Agreement organized for Public-Private Sector.
A Joint Public-Private Sector Consultative Dialogue on the EU-Pacific Interim Economic Partnership Agreement was held in Honiara yesterday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External organized the dialogue in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS)- European Union (EU)- Strengthening Pacific Intra-Regional and International Trade (SPIRIT) programme.
The dialogue is geared towards refining the implementation of the EU-Pacific interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-iEPA ) that Solomon Islands is a party to.
Speaking at the start of the dialogue, Trade Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Barrett Salato acknowledged the participants for their support and cooperation as they discuss pertinent issues to Solomon Islands trade and development.
He said Solomon Islands and the European Union has a long and sustained economic and trade relations for many years and the EU is ranked second export destination for the Solomon Islands, accounting for 16 percent of our total export and ranked 7th as our source of import.
Solomon Islands export to the EU has been dominated by Tuna export, although Palm Oil and Coconut Oil are also made in small volumes.
The Trade Commissioner said the Solomon Islands is able to sustain its Tuna export to the EU thanks to the Duty-Free Quota-Free market access arrangements available to the Solomon Islands under the Everything but Arms Initiative and the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement.
“Our only tuna processing cannery, Soltuna, is able to compete in the EU market because of this DFQF trade arrangement,” He added.
He also made mention of the support by the EU in providing very important raw material sourcing opportunity by the Tuna industry through the provision of the Global Sourcing arrangement under the IEPA.
Under such arrangement, Soltuna is able to expand its processing capacity because of the Global Sourcing rule, enabling it to employ more local workers, especially women which comprised of more than half of the company workforce.
Mr. Salato further highlights, that while exports to the EU markets are based on a few products, opportunities are there for other products to be developed and exported to EU markets such as cocoa and other fisheries and agriculture products.
The Trade Commissioner emphasized that for this to work, Aid for Trade Assistance is needed to support the development of other potential products. Aid for Trade Assistance provided by donors and development partners needs to have transformative effect on small Islands country like Solomon Islands, for them to be able to be competitive and participate fully in international trade.
The outcome of today’s dialogue will help to advance the current draft National Implementation Plan of Action (NIPA) for the EU-Pacific interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-iEPA) implementation for Solomon Islands.
-MFAET PRESS RELEASE