Workshop to COVID-proof Pacific economies

Pacific economies are strategically positioning themselves to benefit and expedite trade on the digital market to drive economic development and ensure growth amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support around digital trade was garnered during a virtual e-commerce regional workshop convened by the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS) in collaboration with the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and attended by more than 100 officials from trade, regional agencies and international organisations.

During the two-day meet, officials unpacked findings of the Pacific E-commerce assessment and a sub-regional assessment and discussions will supplement the Pacific E-Commerce Strategy targeted to escalate the trading potentials. Discussions centred around the state of the play E-commerce, one of the five priorities of the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy, assessed digital trade readiness in access policy and regulatory environment, ITC infrastructure and skills, access to finance for e-commerce ventures and digital payment systems.

PIFS Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor said Pacific economies should harness digital trade.

“There is immense potential for e-commerce to help the Pacific region overcome its structural challenges. It is also crucial to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and shape post-COVID recovery,” Taylor said.

MSG Acting Director-General George Hoa’au said embracing e-commerce as a business model for businesses in the Pacific is prudent given the impact of the pandemic. He is optimistic that the model will fair well for Pacific economies based on a 15 per cent increase recorded in global e-commerce sales this year.

“…I am confident that the future of E-commerce in the Pacific region is bright. It will make an immense contribution to unlock opportunities available through the Melanesian Free Trade Agreement for businesses and exporters in the MSG economies,” Hoa’au said.

Meanwhile, consultations on the regional e-commerce strategy will continue, post-workshop, and aspirations are that it will be implemented in 2021.

The joint MSG Secretariat and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat event was supported by the European Union (EU) TradeCom II program. 

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