PACER Plus Workshop Empowers Pacific Trade Officials with Insights
12 May 2023
APIA, Samoa – The four-day PACER Plus Regional Trade in Services Workshop, aimed at enhancing the capacity of government officials from PACER Plus Parties, concluded successfully yesterday. The workshop, held from 8-11 May in Samoa's capital Apia, provided a platform for participants to delve into the significance of services trade, explore the PACER Plus services chapter and schedules of specific commitments, analyse trade in services statistics, and identity opportunities for Pacific Parties to bolster their service sectors and maximise gains from services trade.
The workshop featured world class experts who shared their expertise and knowledge on various aspects of services trade. These included trade experts from organisations such as the World Trade Organisation, Lexbridge Lawyers, World Bank, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, TradeWorthy, Pacific Islands Forum, and the Pacific Community. Presentations from the ASEAN region and the Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership also highlighted lessons from other regions and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that could assist the development of trade in services in the Pacific.
Through comprehensive sessions and engaging exchanges with experts, the participants deepened their understanding of the vital role services play in the region's economic growth. The workshop fostered a collaborative environment that empowered the participants to explore the opportunities available to them and envision strategies to strengthen their service sectors.
"I wish to acknowledge the PACER Plus Implementation Unit (PPIU) for organising this workshop. The first day of the workshop, I remember saying to myself that I didn't fully understand trade in services. At the end of it, I can now say that I've gained invaluable insights into services trade. My understanding of the vital role services play in Solomon Islands and indeed regionally has deepened," said Janice Ashwin, Senior Trade Officer with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade in Solomon Islands.
Reflecting on the workshop's success, Laisiana Tugaga, Operations and Secretariat Manager of the PACER Plus Implementation Unit, remarked: "We've learnt this week that the services sector is the backbone of economic development, creating more jobs and economic activity than any other sector. We are seeing this even in the Pacific with services value added accounting for more than half of some countries' GDP – 70 per cent for Samoa. PACER Plus offers a unique opportunity to address barriers to trade in services in the Pacific. Not only is it the only FTA in the Pacific with a trade in services agreement that is in force, but it also has a development cooperation programme that can provide targeted support to our countries. We are confident that the knowledge gained during this workshop will pave the way of enhanced participation and gains from services trade in the Pacific."
From this workshop, the Parties have agreed to continue targeted capacity building initiatives to broaden Pacific stakeholders' understanding of Parties' services obligations and commitments under the PACER Plus Agreement. The Parties also agreed to look at renewed processes and tools to improve the development of project proposals under the PACER Plus Development and Economic Cooperation (DEC) work programme. The PACER Plus Implementation Unit administers the DEC and provides support to Parties for the implementation of activities including Trade in Services.
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About PACER Plus: The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus) is a unique regional trade and investment agreement among eight Pacific countries and Australia and New Zealand. The agreement aims to promote economic cooperation and enhance trade between Pacific countries and their larger neighbours, Australia and New Zealand.
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