From the far western end of the Solomon Islands (Choiseul) two weeks ago to the far eastern end of the Solomon’s (Friday 27th September), Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) and Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce (SICCI) officials took to Lata, the provincial head quarter of Temotu province the PACER Plus awareness.
The provincial conference room was fully packed with stakeholders from the Provincial Executive members, Provincial Government Senior Officials to Private Sector representative and NGOs.
Director of External Trade in his opening remarks conveys his Ministry’s appreciation to the Provincial Government for availing time and providing support in bringing together the different stakeholders. The Director also introduced the aim of the awareness program and outline of the day’s session.
Presentations were delivered on the overview of PACER Plus and SICCI’s view on PACER Plus, especially on the opportunities and challenges that PACER Plus would bring with it. Specific presentations were also delivered on the PACER Plus Rules of Origin and Labor Mobility.
Stakeholders attending the awareness program appreciate and value the Ministry’s awareness program saying that it is probably a new set of information’s that we have delivered although they have been following the MSG agreement closely with the intention of the Provincial Government to trade (export) with Vanuatu. “We’ve heard about PACER Plus in the Radio and read in some of the newspapers. We have now heard it firsthand what the agreement is all about and have the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification”, one of the participants said. Whilst another asked, “what is in the PACER Plus for Temotu as a province”.
The stakeholders asked a lot of questions on the PACER Plus agreement and showing particular interest with the SICCI’s presentation being the first time they have someone from SICCI in the province. Labour mobility also attracts a lot of attention.
On Labour Mobility, there have been few bogus agents going around collecting money from locals in Lata. Given the teams presentation, they have now being properly informed. The participants also requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade to send the list of accredited agents and LMU’s contact point to the Provincial Government, so they can cross check once they are being faced with bogus agents in the future. They further requested the Labour Mobility Unit (LMU) to expand its recruitment to the province, seeing that the LMU have undertaken recruitment drive to other provinces in the Solomon’s.
SICCI in its presentation informs that they do not have any membership in Temotu, only from Malaita, Makira and Western Province. The presentation also seeks private sectors interest from Lata for membership. This is part of SICCI’s expansion strategy in particular for Small Medium Entrepreneurs (SME) going into the future. SICCI was requested to have further discussions with the Temotu Development Authority (TDA) representative as the private sector arm of the Provincial Government and other small private sector business once the awareness program concludes.
The officials also have a debriefing session with the Minister for Finance and Treasury Ms. Joycelyn Ipei, the Provincial Secretary – Mr. Allen Agassi and two members of the provincial assembly. The meeting was basically to brief the Provincial Members and Provincial Secretary on the awareness program but also to follow up on previous discussion the province had with the MFAET’s Permanent Secretary. On the other hand, the Provincial Secretary also informed the team of the Provincial Government priority areas especially – the development of the fisheries sector to trade with Vanuatu.