Monday, 16 May 2011 9:04 AM

Tonga Hosts Forum Trade Officials and Ministers

Press Statement - Monday 16 May 2011The Forum Trade Ministers' Meeting (FTMM) will be held in Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga on 18-19 May 2011.

Forum Trade Ministers and Officials will receive updates on regional work programmes including the operations of the Office of the Permanent Delegation of the Pacific Islands Forum to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, trade promotion work undertaken by Pacific Islands Trade and Invest, progress made on regional work to develop frameworks for the protection of Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property, progress on the PACER Plus negotiations and efforts to improve trade facilitation between Forum island countries and Australia and New Zealand.

Forum Trade Officials will convene over the next two days (16 and 17 May 2011) to discuss trade matters and develop recommendations for consideration by Trade Ministers later in the week.

"Ministers and Officials have an important and challenging task ahead of them next week, and we look forward to their guidance on issues that will shape the nature of trade in our region," said Forum Secretary General, Tuiloma Neroni Slade. "At this Meeting, Ministers will consider a range of issues and make decisions which will help their communities benefit more fully from trade."

Adds Mr Slade: "Increased international trade has the potential to support the region's aspirations under the Pacific Plan and advance achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by creating opportunities for employment and enterprise. Trade also generates income for governments, which can fund improved education and health services."

Trade Ministers will communicate their decisions to Forum Leaders for consideration at their Summit in Auckland in September.

To improve the opportunities for trade for their producers, Tonga will host the Pasifiki Trade Fair: Vava'u Lahi 2011 at Neiafu, Vava'u in the margins of Forum Trade Ministers' Meeting. The Fair is an annual event organised by Tonga's Ministry of Labour, Commerce and Industry in partnership with the Tonga Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Attending the Fair this year are Pacific Islands Trade and Invest's Trade Commissioners from China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, who will help Tongan businesses to promote products in their respective markets .