30 participants from the Malaita Provincial Government, Private sector, and line Government Ministries were present as the External Trade Department within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) in collaboration with Customs Division carried out an awareness program on the Pacific Agreement on Close Economic Relations (PACER Plus) in Auki Yesterday (Wednesday).
The awareness program is part of Solomon Islands preparation towards ratification of the PACER Plus Trade agreement.
Solomon Islands amongst 8 other Pacific Island countries signed onto the agreement in June 2017.
Solomon Island is yet to ratify the agreement and this awareness program is part of the preparations the country is undertaking towards ratification of the agreement.
The awareness program includes presentations on the PACER Plus agreement, specific presentation on PACER Plus Rules of Origin (ROO) and Regional Labour Mobility.
The objective of the awareness program is to ensure that key stakeholders in the country are aware of the PACER Plus and also to understand the issues and complexities that come with the Trade Agreement.
The awareness program also aims to inform stakeholders of the opportunities that are readily available to take advantage of but also the challenges that must be address in order for Solomon Islands to meaningfully participate under the PACER Plus agreement.
A lot of questions and comments were raised to better understand the Rules of Origin of the PACER Plus but also on the regional labour mobility scheme. It was a lively debate which addresses many reservations of the participants about the PACER Plus Agreement.
At the end of the program, Participants were very grateful for the awareness program saying it was good that the government reaches out to provinces with such awareness especially on Trade agreements. It gives participants more in-depth information and welcomes such undertaking in the future, targeting specific groups or stakeholders.
The Director of External Trade Mr. George Tuti took the opportunity to thank the province for allowing the awareness program to be carried out in Malaita and also thanked the participants for the very interactive session.
Meanwhile the next province that the team will travel to will be Choiseul.