The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and development partners are mobilising support for the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy (PAfTS) 2020-2025. A consultative virtual teleconference roundtable with development partners was held on 22 April 2020 as an initial step.

The Secretariat considers PAfTS key to identifying and implementing core trade priorities for the Pacific region.

“We acknowledge the valuable contribution of development partners and thank them for their participation in the face of challenges posed by COVID-19. We look forward to collaboration and coordination as we implement PAfTS in the coming five years,” said Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The importance of regional trade was initially underscored by Senior Trade Officials during the Pacific ACP Trade Officials Meeting held in 2018 in Apia, Samoa. The Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy (PAfTS) 2020-202 was endorsed by Forum Trade Ministers at their meeting on 13-14 February 2020 in Suva, Fiji.

The PAfTS 2020-2025 is guided by four principles: strategic regional impact; prioritization; leveraging existing policies and mechanisms; and ownership. In line with these guiding principles, the Strategy focuses on mobilising Aid for Trade resources for projects in the four thematic priority areas of services; electronic commerce; comprehensive connectivity and deepening Forum markets.

Director of Programmes and Initiatives, Zarak Khan stated “this Strategy will draw from, and contribute to national-level trade development, aiming to achieve the relevant 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) around deepening regional economic integration”.

This reflects the 2015 Framework for Pacific Regionalism and the Blue Pacific 2050 vision as articulated by Forum Leaders.

The Roundtable was an opportunity for development partners to provide an overview on existing work done prior to the endorsement of the 2020-2025 strategy, and challenges currently being experienced in Forum Island Countries in the implementation of their respective programmes.

Development partners also focused on the evolving COVID-19 global pandemic and how identified PAfTS priorities could be used in the immediate, medium, and long term to mitigate negative impacts triggered by the pandemic such as alleviating fiscal and financial constraints, providing leverage for the movement of critical products (food, medical supplies etc), trade facilitation and economic recovery post-COVID-19.

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