2012 Forum Trade Ministers Meeting in Majuro concludes with Countries agreeing to foster PACER Plus negotiations, progressing the finalization of the Pacific Aid for trade Strategy and phase two of the Traditional Knowledge Action Plan
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): May 18, 2012 - The 2012 Forum Trade Ministers Meeting (FTMM) was held on Friday, May 11, 2012 at the International Convention Center in Majuro. The Meeting discussed trade and trade-related issues of critical importance to the Pacific Region, including the 10 years Strategy to promote Pacific trade and investment in selected markets that are of interest to Island Countries, progress in negotiations for the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus between Forum Island Countries and Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), and latest development in the establishment of a regional trademarks application system as well as traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights.
Trade Ministers in their deliberations adopted several key decisions. One of them was the unanimous agreement to move forward PACER Plus negotiations, through the formation of four negotiating groups (four negotiating groups for the six priority issues (labour mobility; customs procedures and rules of origin; development assistance; and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures); and the conduct of intersessional meetings between FICs and ANZ to discuss specific priorities issues identified by both Parties. ANZ has committed to fund up to four FIC representatives for each negotiating issue to be considered at the intersessional meetings. The Meeting agreed that the first intersessional meeting will take place in Vanuatu no later than July 2012.
Another major decision was the agreement that it was urgent to progress the refresh and renew process of the Pacific Aid for Trade (AfT) strategy and the MoU for the establishment of the Pacific Trade Development Facility. The FSM Government has identified AfT resources as one tool that could enable the Nation to address trade facilitation issues, enhance trade and trade-related infrastructure, strengthen the private and productive sector, with a view to increase domestic production, respond to the local demand, and potentially supply the subregional and regional market. This would ultimately become a contributing factor to achieving the objectives of the Strategic Development Plan.
A decision of the 2012 FTMM that is important in the FSM's perspective was in relation to the second phase of the Traditional Knowledge Action Plan. Traditional Knowledge and Genetic Resources have become an issue of concern for the FSM, given the potential for misappropriation and usage of some of its unique traditional symbols and designs, derivative arts and crafts, traditional songs, and medicinal plants due to the lack of an appropriate regime in place. Secretary Henry reiterated the importance of the issue for the FSM, and informed the Meeting that FSM is in the process of ratifying the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization. He acknowledged technical assistance being provided by Australia, and stressed that "[...] additional technical assistance would be crucial for FSM to fully implement its obligations under the Protocol; and to establish a comprehensive regime for the protection and promotion of Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources and other components of Intellectual Property in the FSM."
Prior to the 2012 FTMM, Secretary Henry attended the 4th Forum Island Countries Trade Ministers Meeting (FICTMM), on Thursday, May 10, 2012. FSM was appointed for a term of two years to the Governing Board of the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser, alongside three other FICs (Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Tuvalu). As a Member of OCTA Governing Board, FSM will participate in the administration and management of the OCTA, including the approving of OCTA's annual budget, work program, providing direction, and monitoring its activities. This is a notable achievement for the FSM given OCTA's pivotal role in advising FICs in their PACER Plus negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.
The 2012 Forum Trade Ministers Meeting was attended by Ministers and Head of Delegations of the 15 Forum Countries, and New Caledonia.
Attending the Meetings was Secretary Marion Henry of the FSM Department of Resources and Development, accompanied by Mr. Ernest Weirlangt, Assistant Secretary for Trade and Investment and Mr. Jean Bertrand Azapmo, Trade Policy Analyst.
For more information, please contact the Department of Resources and Development at telephone number (691) 320-5133.
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