The Fiji Times »Business Potential

Digital connectivity and the digital economy offer enormous potential, which has played an important role in compensating for lost productivity.

This was highlighted by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Commerce, Tourism and Transport, Shaheen Ali, during the opening statement as chairman of the Forum’s trade officials meeting recently.

“There is a greater need for the Pacific to foster digital infrastructure development and support digital economic integration in the region as we attempt to restore the Pacific economy amid the crisis,” he said. .

“In addition to this, the development of new market access agreements and the support of value chains are essential to develop trade. Australia had planned a commercial trial of kava imports in 2020.

“Unfortunately, this has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis. We urge that the trial resume as soon as possible. “

Such opportunities would effectively promote Pacific exports to the Australian and New Zealand markets, which would help MSMEs to remain competitive, as new opportunities could also be created for labor mobility.

“This could be done by expanding existing labor mobility programs to new industries and sectors to allow workers in the Pacific to compete with workers in other parts of the world.

“Today we have the opportunity to develop regional strategies to deal with the effects of this pandemic and any natural disaster in the future.

“The shock caused by COVID-19 shows us the importance of deepening collective strategies in order to be ready to face not only the challenges of pandemics, but also the threats of climate change that persist in our region.

“To achieve this goal, we need to develop a clear and cautious stimulus plan that presents various scenarios for the gradual reopening of cross-border travel in the region, intra-regional trade and the revival of the sectors most affected by the crisis.”

Another potential area for development and collaboration was highlighted as sustainability and the green economy.

Ali said that by adopting a mindset on sustainable development, it has enabled them to help their businesses and workers to seize new growth opportunities.

“This is why Fiji and New Zealand, along with Costa Rica, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, launched the initiative on the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and durability.

“And other Pacific Island countries are also encouraged to join this initiative to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change through the trading system.

“We see significant opportunities for Pacific Island businesses to meet the growing demand for energy efficient solutions in our region.

“We also hope to encourage research and knowledge sharing on green technological solutions for the region,” he said.
Reducing trade costs and facilitating trade were declared necessary as other targeted policies that the Region should seriously consider.

“This can be achieved by strategically directing Regional Aid for Trade to meet our unique trade challenges.

“For example, there must be sufficient support for trade-related adjustment in order to diversify our economies and to develop and expand new sectors of export interest.

“Collective responses and solidarity are crucial to winning the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.


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