Micronesian Ministers agreed to do more to advance private sector development and to further strengthen trade and economic cooperation between Micronesian Countries during the 8th Ministers’ Meeting of the Micronesian Trade and Economic Community (MTEC) held in Koror, Palau on October 14, 2016

Press Release #1610-04
Palikir, Pohnpei FSM Information Services
October 31, 2016

Palikir, Federated States of Micronesia, October 25, 2016

 

The 8th MTEC Ministers’ Meeting took place on October 14, 2016, at Palau International Coral Reef Center, in Koror, Palau. The Meeting was attended by Hon. Charles Obichang, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Industry, and Commerce, Palau, who also chaired the Meeting; Hon. Thomas Heine, Minister of Justice, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Hon. Alfred Alfred Jr., Minister of Resources and Development, RMI, and Hon. Tauanei Marea, Minister of Commerce, Industry, and Cooperatives, Republic of Kiribati. The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) was represented by Mrs. Camille Movick-Inatio, Assistant Secretary for Trade and Investment, FSM Department of Resources and Development.

 

The main objective of the Meeting was to deliberate on issues relating to private sector development programs and trade and investment policy initiatives. The meeting also reviewed recent trade and investment trends and developments of interest to Member States and matters related to the MTEC Interim Secretariat’s affairs.

 

During dialogue session between Private Sector Representatives and MTEC Ministers,  which was the first agenda item, Mrs. Ltelatk Fritz, Director, Small Business Development Centre, Palau, presented on behalf of the Private Sector, a number of priority issues affecting private sector development in the sub-region for consideration by MTEC Ministers, including sea and air transportation, disproportionate presence of foreign labor in domestic market, availability and accessibility of data on domestic businesses, transparency in business and investment procedures, international certification of products originating from MTEC Member Countries to foreign markets, and the lack of an appropriate forum through which businesses can exchange information on opportunities, best practice and network. Mrs. Ltelatk Fritz also discussed possible identified by the Private Sector during their preparatory Meeting prior to the MTEC Ministers’ Meeting, for MTEC governments to consider collectively. These includes training MTEC citizens and putting in place incentives for businesses to give preferential treatment to MTEC citizens before considering foreign workers, development of a website and an online platform to enhance the flow of information among domestic businesses and launching of MTEC business forum where the private sector meet annually to discuss common interest, exchange information on opportunities and formulate recommendations.

 

MTEC Ministers welcomed the initiative of the MTEC Interim Secretariat and the approach taken by the Private Sector and tasked the Interim Secretariat to work in close collaboration with National Private Sector Organizations to convene the 1st MTEC Business Forum, which should be as a platform for business-to-business engagement as well as Public-Private Sector Dialogue on business development in the sub-region. In addition, MTEC Ministers directed the Secretariat to undertake a stock take of existing air and shipping routes and companies servicing those routes and review relevant legal frameworks supporting those operations and to assess the possibility of joint tendering of air and shipping routes that connect Micronesian economies and potentially other Pacific island economies.

 

In addition, the 8th MTEC Ministers’ Meeting noted and discussed recent trade and investment developments worldwide and directed the MTEC Interim Secretariat to mobilize the necessary assistance from relevant regional and international organizations as well as Development Partners to support Micronesian countries in mapping regional value chains in the Micronesian sub-region and identifying potential sectors for green industrialization to foster the production of green goods and services by MTEC Countries.

 

MTEC Ministers also welcomed recent developments in the FSM and Palau regarding harmonization of labor and immigration laws and policies and invited MTEC Countries to identify sectors where there is presently skills shortage and share the information with the MTEC Interim Secretariat for dissemination. The Meeting encouraged MTEC Countries to formalize preferential policies regarding the recruitment of MTEC citizens.

 

Furthermore, the 8th MTEC Ministers’ Meeting discussed  ongoing collaboration with the World Bank to implement activities identified in the MTEC Trade and Investment Facilitation Roadmap, development of the MTEC Business Database, progress in Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus, findings of the Study on the Benefits and Challenges for the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau’s accession to the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), and ongoing process for accessing EDF 11th for the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme (PRIP). In this regard, MTEC Ministers urge the PIFS and other CROP agencies involved in the implementation of the 11th EDF PRIP, to give special attention to the unique situation of Micronesian Countries, which continue to face significant SPS and TBT constraints in exporting their limited products and have low ranking under the Ease of Doing Business, and developing robust and integrated trade and investment policy frameworks with targeted activities and interventions to help them address those constraints with a view to improve their business enabling environment and to foster their participation in regional trade.

 

 

Moreover, the 8th MTEC Ministers’ Meeting congratulated the FSM for ratifying the MTEC Treaty and directed the Interim Secretariat to work with the FSM and RMI to finalize administrative work necessary for the entry into force of the Treaty.

 

Finally, MTEC Ministers’ Meeting thanked the Government of Kiribati for accepting MTEC’s invitation to attend the 8th MTEC Meeting as an Observer, and congratulated The Honorable Tauanei Marea, Minister of Commerce, Industry, and Cooperatives, Republic of Kiribati for his participation. MTEC Ministers reiterated their resolve to pursue MTEC’s vision to include all Micronesian countries and Territories and to work together for economic and social prosperity of the Micronesian sub-region and its People.  The Honorable Marea, stated that Kiribati’s presence at the 8th MTEC Meeting was in line with its belief in regional cooperation as one of the most effective strategies to addressing trade and economic challenges facing the region, in particular Small Islands States.

 

MTEC Ministers were supported by their Senior Officials who held their Meeting on October 12 and 13, 2016 at the Penthouse Hotel, Koror, Palau.

 

The 8th MTEC Meeting, the MTEC Interim Secretariat received trade capacity support from APTA Secretariat represented by Mr. Joong-Wan Cho, Chief APTA Secretariat/Trade, Investment and Innovation Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) assisted by Mr. Dong Oh Nam, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat represented by Mr. Shiu Raj, Director of Economic Governance Programme, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), and the Hub & Spokes II Programme jointly funded by the European Union, the ACP Secretariat, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie through the trade advisory services of Mr. Jean Bertrand Azapmo, National Trade Adviser assigned to the FSM.

 

For more information, please contact: MTEC Interim Secretariat/FSM Department of Resources and Development; telephone (691) 320-2646/5133; fax: (691) 320-5854; e-mail: mtcinterimsecretariat@fsmrd.fm.