European Union releases 9 million (Euros) for increasing the trade capacity of Pacific ACP countriesThe European Union (EU) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) have signed a Contribution Agreement today for the project: Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT). This project, funded under the 10th European Development Fund is part of the ?30 million EU programme: Strengthening Economic Integration Through Trade (SPEITT) that aims to increase Pacific ACP countries' ability to benefit from global trade and regional economic integration. SPC will be the implementing agency for the IACT project.
Commencing in mid-2011, IACT is a four-year project that will be implemented by SPC through its Land Resources and Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Divisions.
A signing ceremony was held in Suva, Fiji with Ms Ritva Sallmén, Chargée d'Affaires a.i. of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific and SPC Director-General Dr Jimmie Rodgers.
'Pacific ACP countries face a number of challenges that limit their ability to benefit from opportunities available in the global economic market. A lack of competitiveness of primary sector exports is one of the major constraints to their export performance. Agriculture, aquaculture and forestry offer great potential, but the region needs to be able to guarantee supply, sustain quality and increase competitiveness of its products. The IACT project will work with the private sector and government agencies to address these and other constraints to trade, thereby contributing to the goal of greater economic integration in the Pacific region,' said Ms Sallmén.
'The very ocean that defines us as a region can make economic integration a challenge. Thanks to the European Union's funding of this exciting project, Pacific Island countries and territories will now be able to work together to sustainably increase exports out of the region, which in turn can lead to lasting change in our rural communities,' said Dr Rodgers.
The IACT project will operate in the 15 Pacific members of ACP (the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States): Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The project's overall objective is to improve Pacific ACP countries' economic integration through strengthened national systems and institutional frameworks, develop trade capacity, increase private sector competitiveness, and increase international market access.
Its goal is to strengthen the export capacity of Pacific ACP countries in the primary industries of agriculture, forestry and aquaculture.
More specifically, the project aims to:
1. Strengthen and diversify the range of tradable products being produced by private sector operators in Pacific ACP countries;
2. Strengthen the technical capacity of Pacific ACP governments, intermediary organizations and private sector to increase market access and penetration for niche and value added products; and
3. Strengthen capacities of Pacific ACP national departments and export enterprises in the targeted sectors to comply with international trade standards.
The IACT project will run in tandem with and build on lessons learnt from the Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) project, funded by the EU through the 9th European Development Fund and also implemented by SPC.
IACT is one of four components of the Strengthening Pacific Economic Integration Through Trade (SPEITT) programme, whose objective is to 'increase regional economic integration and cooperation in Pacific ACP countries'.
SPEITT is a major vehicle for the Regional Implementation Plan 2010-2014 of the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy, and is strongly supportive of both the EU Pacific Regional Strategy and the EDF 10 Pacific Regional Indicative Programme (PRIP).
These highlight the need to enhance sustainable livelihoods by making the most of economic opportunities through regional cooperation and economic integration.
The EU has earmarked ?95 million in favour of the Pacific region under the 10th EDF Regional Indicative Programme. It is broken down as follows: Regional economic integration - ?45 million (including the above-mentioned SPEITT programme), Sustainable management of natural resources and the environment - ?40 million, Non-state actors & technical cooperation - ?10 million.