THE National Trade Development Council (NTDC) on Friday held its first quarterly meeting for 2014 at the Kairos conference centre.
The NTDC, which meets on a quarterly basis, is a senior level forum for decision making and coordination of trade development policy in Solomon Islands including trade policy formulation and trade mainstreaming into national development plans.
It also ensures effective coordination amongst government ministries, private sector organizations and civil society organizations.
Cabinet endorsed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) to facilitate the work of NTDC on December 20th 2012.
The NTDC is comprised of representatives from various Government Ministries, private sector organizations and non-governmental organisations.
During the meeting, which was chaired by the Vice Chair and Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands Denton Rarawa, the Council was updated on Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) activities and progress on trade negotiations including the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER Plus) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU.
Members discussed issues relating to a new proposed project under the EIF which will focus on the agriculture sector and were informed that officials from the EIF National Implementation Unit and the Ministry of Agriculture were already conducting consultations which will lead to a draft project proposal being developed.
The Department of External Trade also took the opportunity to present the draft Trade Policy Framework to the Council which generated substantial inputs from members who were invited to submit comments on the draft.
The Director of External Trade, Barrett Salato, highlighted that the Trade Policy Framework will provide guidance to draw together the trade-related aspects of sectoral policy and will direct stakeholders on how to enhance the role of trade in the economy as a means of reducing poverty.
Mr Salato noted that given its influence on future trade policy in Solomon Islands the input of the NTDC is critical in achieving a representative and effective document.
Consultations that will contribute towards the final version of the TPF will continue in April, including meetings with stakeholders in the provinces.
The meeting concluded on a high note with the NTDC Vice Chair and Governor of CBSI Mr Rarawa commending NTDC members for their continued efforts in enhancing trade in Solomon Islands.