Local exporters and food producers are relishing the opportunities provided through the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus) towards identifying existing gaps that prevents them from meeting international standards.
Members of the private sector, including exporters and food producers were among participants of a Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) workshop held in Honiara from 23-24 May.
“This workshop helps us to identify technical trade barriers, the regulations that exist and requirements of importers with the different markets and criteria that are out there,” said Max Lazarus, a local Kava producer of the local label South Pacific Kava.
Mr. Lazarus is involved in the field of Agri-business and strongly believes the economy of the Solomon Islands can be built on downstream processing of local products.
He is excited that members of the private sector have attended the workshop, more so young people who have come to learn of the various concepts and probably add value to their products.
“The knowledge learned is very relevant to my company and other food processing companies in the Solomon Islands,” Mr. Lazarus said
These sentiments were shared by Claudine Watoto, owner of Island Agro Fresh who said “this workshop and the topics covered are very important, especially for us who want to export our local products. It’s been an eye-opener for many of us.”
“It has allowed us to think on what needs to be improved, and identify where the gaps are,” She added.
Trade Commissioner in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Barret Salato said PACER Plus will help Pacific Island countries become active partners in, and benefit from the regional and global trading system.
He said this in turn will create new opportunities for economic growth, jobs and raising living standards.
He hoped the workshop will enhance participants understanding on the PACER Plus SPS and TBT measures and obligations, and enable them to adhere and adopt best practices in their day-to-day operations to meet standards set out and negotiated under trade agreements such as PACER Plus.
The two-day workshop brought together key stakeholders from the government, private sector, and non-governmental organisations in Solomon Islands. The event ensured that relevant government officials, importers, exporters, farmers, women groups, youth, community groups, and all those involved in trade are well-informed and updated on SPS and TBT measures, as well as their implementation when engaging in trade activities with other parties of PACER Plus.
—MFAET PRESS RELEASE