RMI Approves First Trade Policy Framework

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Seeks to merge trade, investment with development plans

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, May 13, 2012) – The President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), His Excellency Christopher J. Loeak, today announced the approval of the nation’s first Trade Policy Framework. President Loeak made the announcement at the opening of the 2012 Forum Trade Ministers Meeting in Majuro this morning.

"I am pleased to announce that Cabinet endorsed RMI’s first Trade Policy Framework at a special Cabinet meeting that was held yesterday," said President Loeak.

"The main objective of the Trade Policy is to mainstream trade into RMI’s national development plan and to undertake the necessary reforms in trade and investment laws to create a transparent and predictable environment, which is conducive for sustainable, inclusive and private sector-led economic growth and development."

The President added that the Trade Policy will assist RMI to accede to the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), to sign PICTA Trade in services and participate effectively in PACER Plus negotiations.

"It recommends RMI sign the comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) to enable our private sector to add value to fisheries resources and export fisheries products directly to the EU," added President Loeak.

"The Trade Policy proposes bold reforms, including liberalization of a number of sectors, to improve the basic infrastructure services such as transportation, telecommunication and education, which are key to reducing the cost of doing business in RMI.

"These reforms will assist RMI to enhance private sector development and stimulate economic growth in preparation for the expiry of funds under the Compact of Freely Associated States with the United States in 2023."

President Loeak acknowledged the support provided by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in formulating the Trade Policy Framework.

"We look forward to further working with all our donors and trading partners, including Australia and New Zealand, in implementing the Trade Policy."

President Loeak added that although the Marshall Islands is a member of the Freely Associated States with the United States, he believes that regional integration with the Forum Members is of utmost importance.

"This is particularly true in terms of connectivity within the region through transportation infrastructure such as shipping and airlines services, and communications," said President Loeak. "RMI is also working with the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau under the Micronesian Trade Committee (MTC) to promote trade among the Freely Associated States and also to pool resources together and cooperate on common trade issues including Compact trade matters."

President Loeak urged Ministers to support trade-related focal areas under the Pacific Plan, the region’s blueprint for strengthening regional cooperation and integration.

The Pacific Plan seeks economic development in the region through sustainable economic growth; increased trade and investment; improved efficiency and effectiveness of infrastructure development and associated service delivery; and increased private sector participation in, and contribution to, development and decision-making.

Said President Loeak: "These strategic goals require much concerted attention, effort and cooperation to unlock the benefits of improved trade and regional integration."

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