Read SPC's Land Resources Division Director Karen Mapusua's remarks during the Joint National Workshop on Non-Tariff Measures (NTM) and Trade Promotion under IMPACT and SAFE Projects.
22 September 2023, Dili, Timor Leste.
- The senior representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Forestry.
- The senior representatives of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and other government Ministries and Departments.
- H.E The EU Ambassador for Timor-Leste, Mr. Marc Fiedrich.
- Representatives of the private sector.
- Distinguished participants, presenters and facilitators from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Ladies and gentlemen,
Bon Dia, Dadeer di'ak and good morning to you all.
It is a pleasure to provide the opening remarks on behalf of the Pacific Community (SPC) for this Workshop on Non-Tariff Measures (NTM) and Trade Promotion, a joint initiative by SPC and UNCTAD and funded by the European Union.
I wish I could have had the opportunity to meet you all in person, but circumstances prevented me from being physically present. Nevertheless, please know that I am there with you in spirit.
Similar workshops have already taken place in Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and PNG; however, this workshop marks a significant milestone for SPC, as it is the first face-to-face event held in Timor-Leste since the SAFE PACIFIC project’s inception in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic and border restrictions made face-to-face contact a challenge for our team, but I am glad our team is now on the ground to work with respective counterparts in Timor-Leste.
The pandemic also severely impacted exports and trade for the region and exacerbated existing issues for small-island and remote nations such as Timor Leste. As we all know, small island countries strain to meet international trade requirements and standards, and that is the reason we are all here today – as experts in our country, to address these issues, build capacity and share knowledge and strategies to support safe trade.
Often, NTMs, including sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), are seen as technical barriers to trade because of access to trade information and the high costs of compliance, but at the same time, we acknowledge their deep importance in protecting the vulnerabilities of our small island countries – our food systems, ecosystems, biodiversity, and the overall livelihoods of communities. This is the opportunity to reframe these challenges related to NTMs and SPS – not as barriers but as enablers of safe trade that benefits our communities without compromising livelihoods.
This is the work we do under the SAFE Pacific project – the longer name of which is the Safe Agricultural Trade Facilitation through Economic Integration in the Pacific project. SAFE Pacific supports 15 countries in our region, including Timor Leste, to address these barriers in accessing export markets, enhancing value-added products and improving compliance with international standards. Specifically, SAFE Pacific will look at improving the capacity and compliance of biosecurity services and legislation, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, improving regional information platforms and databases, value-adding to selected commodities, access to market certification and facilitating partnerships and collaborations with relevant stakeholders.
We are incredibly grateful to have this opportunity to collaborate with our local counterparts, development partners and UNCTAD’s IMPACT project.
I look forward to hearing about the robust and insightful discussions and thank the government ministries that will be presenting and sharing information at the workshop today alongside our IMPACT and SAFE representatives.
This is your space to contribute, share and build networks, and collaborate for continuous facilitation of trade enabling environment, just as much as it will be an opportunity for SPC and UNCTAD to strengthen our collaborations and learn from you.
Thank you, and I wish you all the best for the workshop.