Foreign Affairs Minister, Patteson Oti, told the Asian Development Bank-sponsored conference yesterday that preferential market treatment does not significantly address the trade imbalance.

Mr Oti was speaking on the importance of 'Aid for Trade', the international assistance to promote export industries in Small Island States and Least Developed Countries such as Solomon Islands.

The Minister said the difficulties created by Solomon Islands' are compounded by its distance from main trading partners, the high costs of telecommunications and domestic transport, and the smallness of domestic market.

The Minister noted that Solomon Islands has received preferential access to foreign markets such as the European Union since the mid-seventies, but has been unable to capitalise on this privilege to build export industries that add significant value to its commodities. He said that market access alone is not enough to enable the necessary development of Solomon Islands' economy.

Mr Oti expressed the hope that his ministry could play a central role in attracting international funding and coordinating its effective delivery to those areas in both the public and private sector in which it will be most effective - a task that the ministry's ambitious project to analyse the country's current needs and capacity gaps, called the 'Integrated Framework', was designed to address.