NTF workshop for Private sector fruitful

member of the Private sector discussing issues during the workshop

A two day National Trade Facilitation (NTF) Workshop organised for the country’s private sector has ended today at the King Solomon Hotel.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) says, in December 2013 the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), was concluded at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia.

“The TFA is an important tool for economies to improve their business environment.

“Easing the cost, time and process of doing business and trading is no longer just a policy choice.

“It is fundamental to increase the competitiveness of an economy and attract investment,” the statement adds.

“Concluded by the WTO members, the agreement promises greater efficiency by targeting administrative barriers to trade – unnecessary border inspections, excessive document and data requirements, manual processes, lack of coordination among border authorities and complex and inefficient rules and procedures.

“All these issues delay the movement of goods and services and increase trade costs which are often passed on to consumers.

“As a member of the WTO, Solomon Islands has been consulting with its stakeholders and working on necessary improvements to comply with the TFA,” it says.

The statement says that in preparation for the implementation of the agreement, the Solomon Islands Customs and Excise Division (SICED) in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) then conducted follow up consultations and awareness with relevant stakeholders from the private sector to inform them of the measures of the Agreement and how it will affect their business operations.

“As part of this consultation process, SICED and MFAET requested the International Trade Centre (ITC) to conduct a 2 day National Trade Facilitation Workshop targeting private sector and border agencies.

Dr. Mohammad Saeed from ITC delivering his presentation during the workshop today

“ITC responded to the request and the result was the two day workshop facilitated by Dr. Mohammad Saeed who came all the way from Geneva, Switzerland.”

In the opening of the workshop Comptroller of Customs and Excise Division Mr. Nathan Kama recognized “the issues private sector faces in trading goods across borders are prolific, given the distance to major trading markets, the high transportation and utility costs, and limited supply of skilled labour, to name just a few.”

The statement says, the workshop was aimed at informing our private sector on identifying measures in the TFA that can help resolve cross border inefficiencies; identify the benefits from the strategies and measures stipulated in the TFA

The Trade Facilitation Agreement is of paramount importance to the Solomon Islands private sector and this workshop provides a great opportunity for members of the private sector to better understand how the provisions contained therein will improve the ease of trading across borders.

Also in attendance were government representatives of border agencies including SICED, Biosecurity and Environmental Health Division.

The workshop was additionally successful in facilitating public-private dialogue on trade facilitation practices both regulatory and procedural.

Director of External Trade Mr. George Tuti during the closing of the workshop states that our private sector requires support to be better prepared to reap the benefits of trading across international borders and tap into the myriad of opportunities the global trading system has for small and medium sized businesses such as ours.

The workshop was fruitful and an eye opener for most of the private sector representatives as it was one of the first of such workshops to be held for them.

One of the important lessons learnt by the Private sector members were learning about how the TFA can assist them in obtaining their imports more quickly than in the previous years.

More than 20 stakeholders from the private sector attended the workshop.