Friday, February 19, 2016

8th National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) Meeting held on February 11-12, 2016 at the Central Facilities Building in Palikir, Pohnpei

On February 11-12, 2016, the 8th National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) meeting was held at the Central Facilities in Palikir under the chairmanship of the Honorable Vice President Yosiwo P. George in order to discuss and validate the findings of the trade facilitation needs assessment conducted by the World Bank Trade Competitiveness Team, to discuss FSM’s participation in ongoing sub-regional and regional trade negotiations, and to consider the national trade and investment policies and priorities for 2016.

The discussions on the first day were focused on FSM’s performance in trading across borders, which deals with facilitating the movement of goods in and out of the country and covers the time, cost, number of documents, and days to process exports/imports documents as well as the cost to ship a 22feet container to and from the FSM.  The Committee noted that in the 2016 edition of the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report, FSM ranked 53 out of 189 countries worldwide; which in comparison to our neighboring countries such as the Republic of Palau (ROP), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Fiji, Samoa and the rest of the Pacific region, FSM is ranked the best or highest.  Reflecting on FSM’s outstanding performance in trading across the borders, Vice President George called on all stakeholders to work collaboratively toward achieving similar results in other areas of Ease of Doing Business. 
During the group discussions, participants reviewed and validated the findings of the assessment conducted by the World Bank Trade Competitiveness Team over a two week period in Pohnpei and Chuuk, FSM’s two busiest commercial ports.  A comprehensive report of FSM trade facilitation needs assessment highlighting gaps and areas where improvement is needed will be prepared by the World Bank and shared with the FSM National and State Governments.

On the second day of the 8th NTFC Meeting, the Committee received updates on negotiations for the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus between Forum Island Countries, including the FSM and Australia and New Zealand and reviewed and endorsed FSM’s draft negotiating documents which will serve the basis for discussions at the next round of negotiations scheduled in March 2016.

In addition to PACER Plus, the 8th NTFC was also briefed on recent proposal by the European Commission to suspend negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European
Union and the Pacific Region, the status of ratification of the Treaty establishing the Micronesian Trade and Economic Community, and the trade and investment-related aspects of the recent Memorandum of Understanding between China and the FSM.

The 8th NTFC also considered the national trade and investment policies and priorities for 2016 incl
uding the ongoing assessment of capacity of the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) scheduled for February 22- March 2, 2016, the review of Foreign Investment Laws in the FSM to further improve the investment climate, the review of the FSM Trade Policy and projects to support and enhance Private Sector Development in the FSM such as training of organic certification and product development support.  Along the same line, State representatives updated the Committee on several ongoing private sector initiatives, which deserve additional government support: Kosrae (production of banana chips, Yap (poultry and pig farms), Pohnpei (export initiative led by Pohnpei Export Association) and Chuuk (organization of its 1st trade fair in November 2015).

In his closing remarks, FSM Vice-president and NTFC Chairman Yosiwo P. George encouraged the Members to remain active in their respective areas and to continue to work collaboratively to achieve FSM’s Trade Policy objective, which is, “to encourage and promote export-led economic growth, self-reliance and sustainable development, with the ultimate objective of creating employment, alleviating hardship and raising the living standards of FSM citizens”.

Participants at the 8th NTFC Meeting included heads of National Government departments and senior officials, Chairmen of the States’ Trade Facilitation Committees, and members of the Private Sector and Non-Government Organizations.

The FSM Department of R&D was supported during the 8th NTFC by the World Bank Trade and Competitiveness Team and the Commonwealth Secretariat Hub & Spokes Programme II.

For more information, please contact the Department of Resources and Development at telephone number (691) 320-5133.

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