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Koya Highlights PICs Trade Needs

  Fiji and the Pacific Island Countries (PICs), as small island economies have unique needs, and are at most risk of being left behind by the multilateral trading system. This
23 May 2018 10:51
Koya Highlights PICs Trade Needs
Regional participants with World Trade Organisation Director-General Roberto Azevêdo (second right), Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor at the the Regional Workshop of the Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) and Post MC 11.The opening session of the four-day workshop was held at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva on May 22, 2018. Photo: DEPTFO News

 

Fiji and the Pacific Island Countries (PICs), as small island economies have unique needs, and are at most risk of being left behind by the multilateral trading system.

This was highlighted by the Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya yesterday while opening the Regional Workshop on the Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) and Post MC 11.

The Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) took place last year between December 10 to 13 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was chaired by Minister Susana Malcorra of Argentina. The Conference ended with a number of ministerial decisions, including on fisheries subsidies and e-commerce duties, and a commitment to continue negotiations in all areas.

The opening session of the four-day regional workshop was held at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva.

The workshop has been jointly organised by the PIF Secretariat and World Trade Organisation to discuss the MC11 Outcomes and Way forward for the Pacific Countries.

The Director-General of World Trade Organisation, Roberto Azevêdo reminded the PICs that their contribution to negotiations and discussion were crucial seeing that they face unique challenges.

In Fiji’s view, Mr Koya said the maintenance of the integrity and credibility of the World Trade Organisation is a key component in the mix of global policy approaches needed to ensure sustained global economic growth.

“Therefore, it is equally important that such economies, like that of Fiji and other Pacific Islands, are most in need of protection and in need of a strong, effective and functioning multilateral trading system.

“This is particularly so in view of the proliferation of regional trade agreements, which exclude us, and wherein the bounds of WTO rules are often exceeded beyond our capacity.

“Simply, shutting the region out and making it impossible for the region to integrate into the global trading arena.

“In spite of Fiji’s limited human and capital resources, we place great importance on the need to actively participate in the WTO forums.”

Mr Koya noted the setting up of the Fijian Mission in Geneva in 2014, is a testimony of its determination.

“We are working hard to ensure that the small voice of the Pacific is heard, both in WTO negotiations and in its regular work.

“Fiji remains fully committed to the DDA (Doha Development Agenda) and is disappointed at the inability of the WTO Membership arriving at concrete developmental outcomes for the DDA since 2001.

“The continued failure to conclude the Doha Round risks undermining the WTO’s credibility and its ability to perform effectively.

“This is of particular concern to Fiji and the Pacific parties, as we rely on the protection offered by the rules of the multilateral trading system, even though some of the rules are burdensome and should be improved to make the multilateral trading system fair and inclusive for all Members.

“It is of grave concern that major economies, spurred by the sentiments emanating from the US leadership are threatening the entire for basis for multilateral trading system and free and fair global trade.

“The global economy and especially small island developing states of the Pacific cannot afford the emergence of protectionism and tit-for-tat trade war.

“This where the WTO needs to be strong to ensure the observance and integrity of global trade rules. Capacity constraints and power differential that the Pacific faces in WTO negotiations, Fiji believes that the WTO can provide a level playing field in decision making for trade rules.

“But this can be achieved only if the WTO is willing to understand and address the concerns of small and vulnerable members.

 

“Therefore, it is important to ensure that fisheries resources are well managed and in a sustainable manner so that the activities of the present generation does not compromise the needs of the future generations.

“Fiji will continue to work in collaboration with other Members to seek a meaningful outcome at the 12th Ministerial Conference.

“A long impending decision on fisheries subsidies, which is in line with the global commitments made in the 2030 Agenda for Development, is the least that should be achieved.

“We would do our own future a disservice, if we do not seek a solid outcome on this.

“We do not trade for the sake of trade itself.

Mr Koya highlighted the very first paragraph in the preamble of the Marrakesh Agreement acknowledges that trade and economic relations should be conducted with a view to raising standards of living, and that positive efforts must be designed to ensure that developing countries secure a share of the growth in international trade commensurate with the needs of their economic development.

 

“We must work with these objectives in mind, not just for those who already have the trading might to matter in the world, but for those who have diminishing aspirations at remaining relevant.

“Fiji remains committed to maintaining an open economy and continues to value the importance of maintaining rules-based multilateral trading system.”

However, the small economies of the Pacific, with geographical and logistical challenges of being located far from the major markets and trading routes, facing supply-side infrastructure and productivity constraints and highly susceptible to natural disasters and climate change challenges, the region is at

risk of further being marginalised if the multilateral trading system does not take into account such realities.

“Impediments to a development oriented outcome at the 12th Ministerial Conference, albeit limited, is not unachievable.

“I am sure if we members, apply the political will and goodwill to our commitments towards the multilateral trading system, it will be successful and will result in beneficial outcomes to all.

 

“The region, more than ever, needs strong leadership from WTO, if DDA ambitions are to be achieved.  The Pacific Region has 6 WTO members and may have more in the future.  Emphasis should be given both by the Secretariat and the membership of the WTO of the concerns and the challenges of the region, including the greatest impending challenge climate change and its impact on the region’s ability to trade.

“The region should not be contacted only when there an election of DG coming.

“We have more to contribute than just making numbers in the WTO.

“A strong Pacific Trading Bloc equals a Strong Multilateral trading system and a strong WTO.”

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