The 2014 Forum Trade Ministers Meeting (FTMM) was held in Tarawa, Kiribati on May 28, 2014 with the theme “Leveraging Economic Growth Opportunities through Trade Promotion and Facilitation Reforms”.
The key trade and trade-related issues discussed by Trade Ministers included Pacific Trade in the global context, progress in PACER Plus negotiations, core trade promotion and facilitation initiatives such as the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy, trade and culture, and protection of creative industries and indigenous knowledge products, and the Pacific Islands Trade & Invest (PT&I) network.
With regards to Pacific trade in the global context, Trade Ministers noted the importance of the changing global trade landscape and new emerging developments, and its impact on the region, including the need to strengthen the Pacific region’s beneficial integration into the international trading system. The Meeting discussed the need for the Pacific region to be proactive in addressing global challenges and to explore strategies to capitalize on the opportunities emanating from global trends.
Concerning PACER Plus negotiations, Trade Ministers were updated on the progress of negotiations between Forum Island Countries (FICs) and Australia and New Zealand and noted that, with the exception of Customs Procedures, all other priority issues in the negotiations remained outstanding and would be further discussed at the next inter-sessional meeting scheduled to take place in Adelaide, Australia in June 2014. It was also noted that New Zealand had tabled a proposal on Labor Mobility and Development Cooperation, which were worth considering to progress discussions on those issues. Labor Mobility and Development Cooperation are the two key offensive interests for FICs, including the FSM, in the negotiations.
Trade Ministers also discussed a possible trade and development arrangement between FICs and the United States. A study on this possible arrangement is being conducted by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, in several FICs, including the FSM, which has been scheduled for early August 2014.
With respect to the developments on trade and culture and protection of creative industries and indigenous knowledge products, Trade Ministers were provided an update of the work of the second phase of the Traditional Knowledge Action Plan, which was being undertaken in conjunction with World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO). The FSM was among the FICs that reaffirmed their interest to benefit from this second phase.
Regarding PT&I network, Trade Ministers also considered the report on the review of the PT&I network, including possible actions identified for strengthening the PT&I network and broader private sector development work in the region delivered by PT&I. The FSM acknowledged the assistance received, in collaboration with the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO), to undertake an e-marketing workshop for tourism providers in the FSM.
The 2014 FTMM was attended by Trade Ministers and Heads of Delegations from all Forum Member Countries, with the exception of Fiji. The FSM was represented by Mrs. Camille Movick-Inatio, Assistant Secretary for Trade and Investment, and Mr. Jean Bertrand Azapmo, National Trade Adviser under the Hub & Spokes Programme administered by the Commonwealth Secretariat.