WORLD Trade Organisation (WTO) director general Pascal Lamy and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat secretary general Tuiloma Neroni Slade have signed a five-year agreement for the organisations to work together to support Pacific Island countries in building their trade-related capacity.
"The Forum Secretariat is our key partner in the Pacific region. Through this MoU, the two organisations will work together to provide trade-related technical assistance to the Forum Island countries of the Pacific Islands Forum," said Mr Lamy.
"The MoU extends the long-standing co-operation between the two organisations, which commenced in 2000."
Mr Lamy is visiting the Pacific islands region for the first time as director-general. His visit concludes a significant year for the forum countries in the WTO. Samoa became WTO's 155th member in May while Vanuatu became the 157th member in August after more than a decade of accession negotiations. Samoa and Vanuatu join Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tonga, the Pacific's other WTO members.
"The Forum Secretariat and the WTO will partner to conduct training and technical assistance activities at the regional level," Mr Slade said. "This will assist Forum Island countries enhance their institutional and human capacity in the field of trade; address trade policy issues; integrate more fully into the multilateral trading system; and exercise rights and obligations of WTO membership."