UK, Australia commit continued support to advance trade and investment in the Pacific region News

22 November, 2022

The Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund (TAF2+) offers support to the poorest developing countries to help them engage in vital trade negotiations. TAF2+ is the 2nd iteration of an FCDO funded programme (TAF) that first began in 2011, centred around delivering on-demand technical assistance to developing countries. TAF2+, a six year programme managed by Cowater International, has continued to build on the previous fund’s successful provision of assistance, development of technical skills and coordination of trade and investment ministries in developing countries around the world.

A fundamental output of TAF2+ is logistical and technical support to developing countries at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The Pacific Island Forum (PIF) group is a core beneficiary of this support, which represents the interests of Pacific Island members at the WTO.

Cowater International is pleased to now announce that in June, and on the eve of the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), the UK Government renewed its assistance to the WTO PIF by means of a new grant. This grant, channelled through the UK’s Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund 2 Plus (TAF2+), has allowed the PIFs to retain the services of a pool of technical experts who have assisted them since 2018 and have in turn enhanced the Group’s capacity to engage at the WTO and influenced MC12 decisions.

In the words of HE Mere Falemaka, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Pacific Islands Forum to the WTO: “The Pacific WTO Members participated actively in the lead up to and during the WTO Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) held in Geneva in June which delivered a number of important decisions for the multilateral trading system.  In particular, the Pacific engaged constructively in the final stages of the negotiations leading to the adoption of the fisheries subsidies agreement.  This would not have been possible without the timely support of the TAF2 project which enabled the Pacific Group to receive valuable technical and legal advice in the preparations for and during MC12. We are delighted to so that this assistance will continue into the future thanks  to the support from Australia”

In addition to this renewed commitment from the UK Government, in July 2022 the TAF2+ Programme and the PIF were also delighted to welcome additional financial support from the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). This support (up to 750,000 AUD or around £430,000 GBP) is targeted at supporting the PIF, and DFAT’s contribution will enable this vital work to continue until July 2024.

Following MC12, the WTO Members have been discussing the implementation of the Ministerial mandates adopted at MC12 in June of this year, specifically for the fisheries subsidies work that was developed. In view of this, the Pacific region met recently for the first time since MC12 at the the WTO High-Level Pacific Regional Event on Fisheries Subsidies. The event was held in Nadi, Fiji from 16 to 18 November 2022.

The Ministerial Sessions which were held on 18 November involved all 8 Forum WTO Members (6 Pacific WTO Members plus Australia and New Zealand). Participating Ministers discussed the way forward for the Pacific region to work together in terms of FSA ratification process and implementation, as well as the second wave of negotiations.

The Pacific also welcomed WTO Director-General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for her first visit to the region, where she met with Forum WTO Trade Ministers during a Ministerial Roundtable. Her visit allowed for the Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the PIFS and WTO which was renewed for the fourth time. This longstanding cooperation ensures that the Pacific WTO Members benefit from regional trade-related technical assistance and capacity building activities on WTO issues that are of importance to the region.

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