Trade Barriers Hinder Growth In Samoa, Talks Told

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Existing agreements do not favor local exporters: Wilson

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Aug. 25, 2015) – The existing trade agreements involving Samoa do not favour local exporters in terms of funding increases to supply chain as well as increasing capacity and market access.

In fact, they are hindering the grown of local businesses, especially small ones.

That was one of the points highlighted by the President of the Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters (S.A.M.E), Tagaloa Eddie Wilson, during the Pacific –U.S.A Trade Talks in Fiji last week.

Present during the S.A.M.E presentation to the U.S. officials were Members of Parliament, Tufuga Gafoa Faitua and Alo Taveuveu who were accompanied by the A.C.E.O of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (M.F.A.T), Aida Savea and the Vice President of the Samoa Chamber of Commerce, Alex Brunt.

La’auli Michael Jones of Matson Shipping also delivered presentation during the meeting about Matson’s role in developing exports from the Pacific.

For Tagaloa, he was asked to highlight to the Trade Talks the challenges faced by Exporters in the regional and international Markets -under current Trade Agreements such as P.I.C.T.A; S.P.A.R.T.E.CA; W.T.O ; and the proposed P.A.C.E.R Plus.

"I talked about S.A.M.E and the Samoa Government efforts in Pushing Exports -under the brand "Buy Samoa Made" to New Zealand (starting in 2013) and in Australia earlier in March this year," Tagaloa said.

"The Export Drives have resulted not only in increased awareness but also significant increase in exports of Samoa Made Goods & Services."

According to Tagaloa, the key challenge is access to competitive finance- to fund the requirement investment to increase the supply chain as well as to finance structural adjustments and processing requirements to meet increased demand and market access requirements.

Current interest rates of 10 to 14per centare far higher than those offered by competitor countries (4 to 6per cent).

The lack of access to Investment Funding to assist exporters in funding required increased capacity and market access is also a major hurdle.

"The current Trade agreements - do not facilitate the above major requirements," he said. "They lack the provision of incentives to facilitate and promote the free flow of investment funds to finance export development."

The officials were also told that to comply with market requirements - for product/labelling/processing as well as international certification (I.S.O and H.A.C.C.P Certification) – is far too costly especially for small scale operators.

"There is a need for the Pacific Island Countries and P.I.F.S to focus on opening up the free flow of trade in raw materials amongst the Pacific Islands," Tagaloa said. "There is also a need to involve Trade Facilitating Private Sector Organizations (such as S.A.M.E) -in determining implementation strategies for the various trade agreements engaged by the P.I.C.s."

Tagaloa said all S.A.M.E's recommendations were adopted by P.I.F.S as part of the outcomes of the Trade Workshop -which was attended by delegates; High Commissioners; Members of Parliament from the Pacific as well as Pacific Private Sector reps and Trade Officials.

"The S.A.M.E presentation also touched on joint efforts to work with the University of Hawaii to take advantage of the multi-billion dollar export opportunities for gluten-free products- such as Breadfruit flour and other agriculture based products," Tagaloa said. "The project will eventually expand to the Pacific Region- to establish a Regional Raw Material sourcing basis to support the project."

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