Multiplying trade opportunities in the Pacific region through a new partnership

7 March 2014
ITC News

The International Trade Centre (ITC) is looking to give the Pacific region an economic boost by launching new projects in Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu.
ITC is partnering with the trade promotion organization Pacific Islands Trade & Invest (PT&I) to strengthen the support that PT&I offers to exporters, to tap opportunities for PT&I to play a multiplier role of ITC services in the region and to ensure that project implementation is going according to plan.

‘One region where we need good partnerships is in the Pacific,’ said ITC Acting Deputy Executive Director Ashish Shah during a recent meeting with two PT&I representatives at ITC headquarters. ‘PT&I has the networks and contacts, and it’s known in the region. It’s a natural partner for ITC,’ he said.

‘It’s a logical and intelligent partnership,’ said Robyn Ekstrom, Trade Promotions Adviser for Europe, PT&I, who attended the meeting. ‘We have very similar objectives, and PT&I and ITC have great opportunities to work in the future.’

During the ongoing needs assessment and project-design phase, ITC is pursuing projects in three Pacific countries. In Papua New Guinea, the focus will be on the development of a national export strategy and a long-term programme focusing on youth employment, sector development (coffee, cocoa, palm oil and timber), food safety and access to finance. In Samoa, the project will target sector development (organic agriculture and services), food safety, access to finance and an improved business environment. In Vanuatu, ITC will offer continued support following the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). It will also assist on food-safety issues, the formulation of a national export strategy and sector development (beef and the fruit and vegetables sectors).

‘Part of the value that we can bring to ITC is the opportunity to work in a partnership that has big networks and a strong presence in the Pacific,’ said Caleb Jarvis, Trade Commissioner, PT&I, during the meeting. The organization is the region’s lead export facilitation, investment and tourism promotion agency, working in all 14 Pacific Island countries and across international markets.

A potential area of collaboration is ITC’s new project, Economic Empowerment of Women in the Pacific Region. The project is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as part of the Women and Trade programme. The overall objective of the project is to deliver increased income and exports for women entrepreneurs in the region. The target countries and sectors are Papua New Guinea (bilum), Samoa (government procurement from women enterprises) and Vanuatu (linking smallholder farmers to the local tourism sector).

ITC has been increasingly active in the Pacific region in recent years. In Fiji, for example, ITC has two European Union-funded projects, one aimed at improving livestock-related services to boost farmers’ incomes and increase the number of exporters, and another project designed to alleviate poverty in the country’s sugar cane belt by supporting income-generating opportunities in non-sugar-based agriculture.

As part of the All ACP Agricultural Commodities Programme, also funded by the European Union, ITC supported the development of commodities exports in Fiji, Samoa and the Solomon Islands. ITC facilitated the design of the sector value-chain development strategy and assisted in implementing market, product and supply-chain development. ITC took follow-up actions, such as fostering exporters’ linkages with Asian companies, providing training and identifying ways to enhance value addition to products.

ITC has also assisted the Samoan Government in its bid for WTO membership. Samoa became a member in May 2012.