January 26, 2017
ACPTBT Programme Trainers with workshop participants
Thursday 26 January 2017, (Suva, Fiji) – Today, the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), in partnership with the ACP-EU TBT Programme, held the validation workshop of the Project “Enhance Trade Capacities of Pacific Agribusiness and Improve Access to International Markets”.
The European Union Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, H.E Andrew Jacobs, formally opened the one-day workshop at the Tanoa Plaza Hotel in Suva. The workshop was attended by representatives from the ACP-EU TBT Programme, PIPSO, the European Union, the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health in Fiji, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Forestry and Fisheries in Tonga and representatives of the private sector.
While opening the workshop, Ambassador Jacobs said: “Supporting regional economic integration is a cornerstone of the EU’s development cooperation in the Pacific and throughout the world. Enhancing the trade capacities of the Pacific is essential. It is essential for promoting economic growth and for providing sustainable livelihoods for the People of the region.’’
‘’The Pacific private sector faces great challenges, such as limited economies of scale and high transportation costs. However, it also has great potential. The Pacific has great products to offer from the land and the sea, it has expertise in innovative and traditional design as well as a beautiful environment which presents a great potential for further tourism development. The EU is proud to support PIPSO in its efforts to help unleash the potential of the Pacific private sector’’, Ambassador Jacobs added.
The ACP-EU TBT Programme is a trade-related technical assistance programme funded by the 10th European Development Fund and implemented in partnership with the ACP Secretariat. PIPSO was able to secure support from the ACP-EU TBT Programme for a project aiming at improving the capacities of selected agribusinesses in the Pacific to overcome barriers to trade both regionally and internationally and take advantage of existing exporting opportunities.
TBT Project Team Leader, Ms. Marta Bentancur Servetti said that 20 quality specialists have now been trained on HACCP and GLOBAL G.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices) which will move the 15 agro-food companies in Fiji and Tonga closer toward certification. “We are very pleased with the Project achievements and the strong commitment of the trained specialists and the companies. This excellent result will contribute to strengthening food safety practices in the region and improving the food sector competitiveness.”, she added.
Ms Mereia Volavola, PIPSO CEO, said, “In PIPSO’s new Strategic Plan, one of the four strategic areas for us to concentrate on is assisting Pacific businesses to enhance their business competitiveness and growth and a great part of the work being undertaken through this TBT project is linked to this very strategic area.”
“For PIPSO, this work has been a crucial area needing support – Pacific businesses are reaching out for greater support, technical and otherwise, to enhance their capacities in food safety and associated standards. And whilst this is particularly so for those exporting and/or considering exporting, there is a similarly greater need for those business in the industry (food/agribusiness) who are focusing on increasing supply within domestic markets”, she said.
Ms Volavola said “The businesses engaged and the participants have responded very well – unfortunately given the pilot status of the project we could not engage more to participate and this really demonstrated the vast need for this type of work and support – not only in Fiji and Tonga – but also across the other Pacific island economies.”
The workshop marked the end of this successful project and covered a range of items, including lessons learnt in assisting local agribusiness SMEs, the role of certification bodies in the region, requirements for exporting fruits and vegetables to regional markets as well as the effects of food and safety requirements on Pacific businesses.