Solomon Islands Trade Policy Framework Launched

Published: Mon 23 Mar 2015 03:39 PM
Solomon Islands Trade Policy Framework Launched
The Government has launched the Solomon Islands first ever Trade Policy Framework in Honiara Wednesday last week.
The launching was jointly made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Milner Tozaka and the visiting Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor.
The Framework sets out the main principles that guide trade policy in Solomon Islands over the coming years. The National Trade Development Council which is the primary advisory and decision-making body on trade matters formally endorsed the framework in February this year.
Minister Tozaka said trade has helped country overcome inherent vulnerabilities and opened up new possibilities in view of the isolation and smallness of Solomon Islands as a country.
“It has contributed to our economic development and provided us the opportunity to enjoy access to goods and services that we neither produce nor provide locally,” he said.The Minister said the key to increasing the benefits from trade is to increase the country’s capacity to produce higher value goods. “While we aspire to gain greater access to foreign markets, we face serious challenges in growing viable export industries and adding value to our abundant natural resources. Implementing and building on the recommendations contained in our Trade Policy Framework will cultivate a dynamic and diverse productive sector which will enable us to truly take advantage of multilateral and regional trading arrangements,” he said.
Minister Tozaka also highlighted that the framework has the potential to increase the potential of labour mobility to benefit Solomon Islands.He said expanding and targeting opportunities for gainful employment within the region will help us confront demographic and economic challenges including the high level of youth unemployment. “Workers abroad remit earnings, invest in commerce and education, and return with valuable skills, as well as contributing to their host economies,” he said. As has been the case for many of our Pacific neighbours, increased labour mobility will empower Solomon Islanders to reach their full potential while contributing to vast improvements in living standards and economic gains.
Secretary General Taylor said this framework seeks to mainstream trade into the national development strategy. “Such integrated engagement will assist in the medium to long-term performance of the Solomon Islands economy, and establish a policy platform that builds upon and coordinates sectoral priorities,” The Trade Policy Framework was drafted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade over the past two years with support from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. It builds on contributions from stakeholders across Solomon Islands including workshops in Honiara, Auki, Gizo, Noro, Buala and Lata. The National Trade Development Council, chaired by Minister Tozaka is now preparing to implement the recommendations of the framework.

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