The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade hosted the ACP-EU Trade Com II Programme virtual workshop on 9 September 2021.
The workshop has stemmed from support project for the implementation of the EU-Pacific States interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) which Solomon Islands requested back in 2019 under the Trade Com II Programme targeted to support the Business Community and Customs Authority in Solomon Islands to pursue greater access to the EU market. The support is being implemented under three phases.
Solomon Islands acceded to the EU-Pacific States Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) on 7 May 2020 to become the 4th Pacific Islands state to the iEPA alongside Fiji, PNG and Samoa. Provisional application of the iEPA began on 17 May 2020 for Solomon Islands.
EU is an important trading block for Solomon Islands as it is primarily the major export destination for Palm Oil and Tuna products.
The virtual workshop carried out was under phase 2 which focused on assisting Solomon Islands’ export ready business community- exporters and the Government support institutions to build capacities on the compliance with the EU standards. The workshop is centred on the benefits of the iEPA including market access opportunities in the EU market for Solomon Islands.
The support project kicked off in October 2020 with consultation held with a number of export ready companies and key government agencies. Under the phase 3 of the project activities, a workshop was successfully completed in mid-March 2021 on the Protocol II on the Rules of Origin of the Pacific- EU-iEPA, and August 2021 on compliance with the Standards and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements for exportation to the EU.
In his opening remarks, Trade Commissioner Mr Barret Salato, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade highlighted that the EU market is the single largest common market in the world and Solomon Islands is fortunate to be the 4th country in the Pacific to accede onto the iEPA with EU and in light of Solomon Islands pending graduation from LDC category. He further urged participants from both the private sector, government agencies and other supporting organisations present to utilize the opportunities under the Pacific –EU Interim Economic Partnership Agreement, particularly with the duty-free access to the EU market and improved Rules of Origin (RoO) in key areas such as fisheries.
The virtual workshop included representation from the Solomon Islands private sector, government agencies; Deputy Head of the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Ms Erja Askola; EU Trade and Investment Programme Manager, Mr Massimo Cammassei; and EU office in Port Moresby representative, Mr. Carlos Perez Padilla.