PRESS STATEMENT - 08th May 2013 - The Independent State of Samoa has achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first Forum Island Country to ratify the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) Trade in Services (TIS) Protocol.

“Trade in services is increasingly being recognized as one of the key contributors in the development of Samoa’s economy and in terms of international trade. Our ratification of the PICTA Trade in Services Protocol is to reaffirm Samoa’s desire to further develop business links with other Forum Island Countries,” Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of Trade Negotiations, Commerce, Industry and Labour, Hon. Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo stated.

A key strategic objective of the Forum’s overarching Pacific Plan is increasing sustainable trade, including trade in services and investment.

“I congratulate the Government of Samoa for ratifying the Protocol,” Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade said. “The PICTA TIS Protocol supports the Pacific Plan goals to enhance and stimulate economic growth and sustainable development though regional actions”.

The PICTA TIS Protocol was opened for signature on 28 August 2012, for a period of one year. To date, nine countries have signed the PICTA TIS Protocol, namely the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Forum island countries are currently organising their national-level approvals for their signature and/or ratification of the Protocol.

“The commitments made by the Forum Island Countries under the PICTA TIS Protocol support deeper integration of the FIC economies and provide an opportunity for the Pacific private sector to have access to a larger regional market,” Secretary General Slade added.

Under the PICTA TIS Protocol, many Forum Island Countries have made commitments to open their economies to other Forum Island Country operators in specific sectors such as Tourism, Transport, Communication, Education, Financial and Business services.

“Samoa is inviting investors and service providers from the Forum Island Countries to contribute to the economic development of the region. Samoa will actively engage with other Forum Island Country economies as they ratify the Protocol to take full advantage of the provisions of the Protocol,” Hon. Lauofo confirmed.

The PICTA TIS Protocol will enter into force 30 days from the date the sixth instrument of ratification or accession has been deposited with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat which is the depository for PICTA.

“Forum Island Countries are urged to progress their necessary domestic preparations including the requisite legislative reforms to progress their signature and ratification of the PICTA TIS Protocol so that they can effectively benefit from economic opportunities provided through this regional integration initiative,” Secretary General Slade said.

The Secretariat will be supporting the Forum Island Countries in the implementation of the Protocol.