Tuvalu has ratified the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), joining other member countries in the region.

In a press statement released by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat today, Tuvalu is stated as the eleventh Forum Island Country (FIC) to ratify the PICTA, 'a Free Trade Agreement among the FICs, which aims to gradually reduce import duties on goods that originate from the member countries'.

Ten other countries in the region have ratified the Agreement which are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

According to the press statement, 'PICTA came into force in 2003 and since then six members - Cook Islands, Niue, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, have announced their readiness to trade under PICTA. Trading under PICTA preferences commenced in 2007'.

'Earlier this month, the Parties have commenced the negotiation of a trade in services agreement to broaden PICTA. PICTA would become more meaningful to countries like Tuvalu as liberalization of trade in services, in addition to trade in goods, are made part of the Agreement'.

According to Tuvalu's Minister for Finance, Economic Planning and Industries, Hon. Lotoala Metia, the island nation "is currently in the process of implementing reforms to give effect to PICTA, prior to announcing readiness for PICTA trade".