MSG Green Trade Project: 2nd Virtual Regional workshop

16 August 2023
09:00 - 12:00 hrs.

On 16 August 2023, the Second regional workshop on the MSG Green Trade Project was held online, organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in partnership with the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat. The workshop was attended by various stakeholders, including representatives from the Fiji Ministry of Trade, Co-operatives and SMEs, Papua New Guinea (PNG) Department of Foreign Affairs, National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority, National Research Institute Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, and the Vanuatu Department of External Trade.

The objectives of the workshop were threefold:

  • Firstly, it aimed to summarize and present the outputs from the national activities of the MSG Green Trade Project. These activities included non-tariff measures (NTM) data collection, national voluntary sustainability (VSS) assessments, the creation of “National Export Guides,” and the formulation of national policy recommendations. These recommendations were based on all outputs and allowed the creation of the “Matrix of synergistic linkages” between the policy recommendations and the respective National Development Strategies of the countries.
  • Secondly, the workshop was intended to inform participants about the start of the second phase of the project, the Regional phase, which includes the writing of the regional action plan and coordination mechanism. The timeline for the proposed regional action plan and implementation mechanism was presented, along with proposed areas to work on.
  • Thirdly, the workshop aimed to discuss comments and inputs from national representatives on the proposed areas of work and any additions that should be included in the regional action plan.

Based on the national reports and workshops, UNCTAD identified three areas of interest for the development of the regional action plan: Capacity Building and Knowledge Exchange, Policy Coordination, and Data Collection. The focus on these areas stems from the need for capacity building, policy gaps, and data challenges identified during the national phase. The aim is to bolster both national and regional sustainable development strategies, particularly Pillar Five of enhanced MSG sub-regional cooperation in the MSG 2038 Prosperity for all Plan.

During the stakeholders’ discussions, several key points were raised. It was underlined that NTMs are an important tool for trade as they give knowledge about requirements on export markets. It was suggested that the regional action plan should be used as a tool to indicate the countries’ needs for support. Infrastructure development was highlighted as a very important area to support trade. Developing hard infrastructure, such as roads, laboratories, or cold supply chains, is necessary for successful trade with other countries. Furthermore, in-person training was emphasized as more effective than remote alternatives for capacity building. The potential and need for closer coordination across the MSG countries were highlighted, especially in respect of addressing trade concerns as a group. These elements will be taken into account in the regional action plan, and it will be reflected that it complements other measures proposed to foster regional development.

The next steps for the MSG Green Trade Project involve the drafting of the regional action plan and coordination mechanism, followed by the 3rd and final regional workshop in Vanuatu in Q4 2023. It will provide a platform for stakeholders to present the national activities and endorse the action plan and coordination mechanism.

Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat

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