Reducing the cost and improving the quality of logistics and transport systems improves international market access and leads directly to increased trade and trade competitiveness.
Trade development is key to improving economic growth, employment creation and addressing economic disparities between urban and remote rural outer-island communities in Pacific Island countries and territories.
A five-day workshop on trade, transport facilitation and port efficiency begins today in Nadi, Fiji, which aims to assist Pacific Island countries in the process of ratifying and implementing the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL) and develop tools to assess and improve trade facilitation and transport logistics in the Pacific.
The regional workshop is organised by the Pacific Community (SPC) and jointly supported by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
“Through this workshop, participants will be advised on the amendments to the Annex of the FAL Convention adopted by the IMO’s FAL Committee in April 2016, with a view to ensure that it adequately addresses the present and emerging needs of the shipping industry as well as the modernisation of its provisions,” IMO’s Head of Facilitation at the Maritime Safety Division, Julian Abril, said.
Inadequate trade-related infrastructure and supply chain bottlenecks are the primary determinants of trade costs whereby reducing them by half, would raise global trade by an estimated 15 percent and global production by five percent.
Improvements in trade facilitation and port efficiency could bring USD 250 billion in additional trade for Asia and the Pacific region.
For every dollar of assistance provided to support trade facilitation reform in developing countries, there is a return of up to USD 70 in economic benefits.
ADB’s Director General for the Pacific Department, Xianbin Yao, underscores the importance of enhancing connectivity and reducing transport logistics costs in the Pacific.
“We are working with Pacific developing member countries to identify inter-island transport logistics bottlenecks; and we are confident that ADB’s trade and transport facilitation in the Pacific technical assistance being financed by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction will be able to produce a long term transport plan,” Mr. Xianbin Yao said.
“We believe it will boost trade competitiveness and eventually add significant value to the islands’ economies and support inclusive and sustainable development,” he added.
The workshop will also feature an Expert Group meeting that will focus on measures to enhance maritime connectivity in the Pacific region.
“In essence, sustainable development calls for balanced and integrated policy making, and effective means of transportation remain a critical cross-cutting enabler for achieving progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Head of UNESCAP Pacific Office, Iosefa Maiava, said.
“The workshop provides an opportunity to also share country experiences to inform sub-regional and national level implementation plans for improving maritime connectivity,” Mr Maiava added.
SPC’s Deputy Director Transport, Thierry Nervale, said that “trade facilitation and port efficiency require a major effort in terms of coordination and cooperation between all national agencies involved in transport that will have an impact in the country’s regional economic integration and in return support economic development.”
Mr. Nervale also highlighted the partnership between SPC, IMO, ADB and UNESCAP to deliver the workshop and future technical assistance to Pacific Island countries to achieve their objective of sustainable development through trade and transport facilitation.
Officials from ministries responsible for trade and transport, port authorities and customs from 14 Pacific Island countries are attending the workshop which concludes on 22 July.