PRESS STATEMENT 42/12
[Friday, 11th May 2012 – Majuro, RMI] The Pacific region continues to prioritise engagement with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for regional and national gains.
An update from the Permanent Delegation of the Pacific Islands Forum to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland (Geneva Office) this week reported steady progress to Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers and Officials.
The 2012 Forum Trade Ministers’ Meeting (FTMM) began today in Majuro, the capital of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Ministers were briefed on the operations of the Geneva Office and WTO-related initiatives including an update on the Doha Development Agenda.
“Most of the region’s trading partners are Members of the WTO and therefore bound by WTO rules,” explained the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade.
“This means that the outcomes of WTO negotiations have implications for all Forum Island Countries, including those not presently members of the WTO.”
Mr Slade added that current Pacific trade negotiations underway such as the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, PACER Plus with Australia and New Zealand and the Pacific Island Countries’ Trade Agreement (PICTA) must necessarily result in WTO-compatible agreements.
“Meaningful advocacy of our island countries’ interests must, therefore, take place within the WTO system,” said Mr Slade.
The Geneva Office is charged with representing and assisting Forum Island Country WTO Members and Observers and with assisting other Forum Island Countries to engage more fully with the WTO.
The Geneva Office currently has a staff complement of five, including the Permanent Representative, Ambassador Aivu Tauvasa.
At present, there are five Forum Island Countries who are full members of the WTO - Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga - while Vanuatu, is undertaking final preparatory arrangements to accede to the WTO.