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Increasing trade data knowledge in MSG

Vishaal Kumar
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A FIRST of a kind Trade Data Peer Learning for the Solomon Islands delegates has been facilitated by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism yesterday.

In opening the learning, permanent secretary for the ministry, Shaheen Ali said the workshop would provide a platform to exchange information and knowledge in the area of trade data.

"This peer learning is extra special for Fiji, as we are welcoming our Melanesian colleagues, which is further strengthening the relationship between the MSG countries," Mr Ali said.

"Earlier this year the Fijian Prime Minister signed the Melanesian Free Trade Agreement, which is an improved and modernised version of the current MSG Trade Agreement. Solomon Islands were the first party to sign.

"The agreement includes improved provision in the trade in goods chapter and chapters on trade in services, investment and temporary movement of natural persons."

He said the learning had provisions that encouraged co-operation, information sharing and capacity building.

"This peer learning is setting the platform for deeper integration amongst the MSG countries. We will be able to align systems and processes amongst the MSG countries starting with trade data. This will allow for greater coherence amongst us.

"This is the beginning of the achieving the vision set by our Leaders for the MSG region to become an 'economic union' and a 'common market'."

Mr Ali also highlighted the importance of the roles such as Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority, Reserve Bank of Fiji and Fiji Bureau of Statistics played.

"In particular, I express my appreciation to Fiji Bureau of Statistics, where the participants will spend three days, learning data cleaning and presentation," he said.

"Increased global trade has fuelled the demand for more information on trade statistics and trade policy measures. Trade and development policies at national-level require good data. In the case of Fiji, data is widely used in statements and presentation made by our leaders in international, regional and national forums."

He mentioned that trade data was also a vital component while calculating Fiji's economic growth, forecasting our growth rates and during national budget preparations among others.

"Trade data plays a crucial role as it helps us understand our trade patterns, performance and prepare for negotiations. Timely and accurate data helps us decide when and how to mobilise resources to achieve the key mandate of the ministry, such as private sector development and mounting of trade and investment missions," Mr Ali said.

"It is important to understand how the data is collected, collated and presented for national use. And we are very happy to be able to share this expertise and experience with our fellow Pacific colleagues."

The European Union (EU) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat are facilitating the two-week peer learning.

The delegation includes representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Central Bank of Solomon Islands, Ministry of Finance and Treasury — who are experts in Customs and statistics.

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