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WTO 4th Trade Policy Review of Fiji: UK Statement

  • Let me start by welcoming Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Mr Manoa Seru Kamikamica and his delegation from Suva and welcome his comments at the beginning of this Trade Policy Review.¬†Let me also thank you, Chair, for your comments and the Secretariat for the preparation of today‚Äôs TPR, including their report. And, last but not least, let me pay tribute to our distinguished discussant, Ambassador George Mina, for his multilingual diplomatic masterclass and his insights, not least for picking up your welcome words, Deputy Prime Minister, on trade as the lifeblood of Fiji‚Äôs development and aspirations.

  • Naturally, as fellow members of the Commonwealth the ties between Fiji and the UK¬†are¬†strong and enduring. In¬†fact it was at the Commonwealth¬†Trade Ministers meeting in London, that the DG attended too, that our Minister for International Trade, Nigel Huddleston, was able to¬†meet with you,¬†Deputy Prime Minister, for what I am¬†told¬†was a very constructive discussion on how we can further strengthen our trading ties.

  • So, let me start by addressing our trading relationship. I am delighted that Fiji, alongside other Pacific States, has secured duty free, quota free access to the UK market under the UK-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). We are currently looking to arrange our first meeting of the Trade Committee established under this agreement which will enable us to develop a shared agenda for the future of our trading relationship and allow us to establish the necessary governance for the implementation of the EPA. ¬†We look forward to engaging further with Fiji on its tariff liberalisation schedule, following the updated schedule it agreed with their EU counterparts.

  • We also welcome the achievements of Fijian businesses under the UK Trade Partnership Programme. Last September, what I understand was some¬†delicious¬†Fijian ginger, was represented at a London food fair, and through the support of UK Trade Partnership three products received Great Taste Awards ‚Äď an accolade recognised as a reliable stamp of excellence among major food buyers which provides a gateway to exciting opportunities for producers. This year we are scaling up ambition of the UK Trade Partnership programme to promote Fijian beauty products, of which some of us are in critical need.

  • Alongside these plans, we are aware that Fiji is keen to diversify its export market and welcomes Fiji‚Äôs intentions for sustainable hardwood exports, which we believe will help contribute towards mitigating harmful climate change. We also welcome the growing influence and importance of the tourism sector in Fiji, which contributes roughly 38% of GDP. The UK strongly supports diversification to strengthen growth and economic resilience and is keen to hear from Fiji about further plans, and opportunities to support, diversification.

  • Chair, let me also pay tribute, as our discussant has done, to Fiji‚Äôs commendable presence here in Geneva. Fiji is an active and constructive voice across various WTO files, not only representing its own interests, but also strongly advocating for the interests of other Small Island Developing States and Pacific nations. This activism and influence extends across the rest of multilateral Geneva as well and I congratulate Ambassador Luke¬†Daunivalu for his contribution – and that of his Mission – across this city.

  • TAS our discussant noted, Fiji‚Äôs commitment and professionalism was exemplified in the Fisheries negotiations, where, as George set out more eloquently than I could, Fiji played a critical role in landing the landmark¬†Fisheries Subsidies Agreement at MC12. Since then, Fiji‚Äôs recent proposal on Overfishing and Overcapacity pillar has offered new elements and sparked a lot of interest from Members. The UK applauds this engagement from Fiji, and the SIDS more broadly, and we look forward to continued constructive discussions to deliver an ambitious and strong agreement which protects our fishing resources, coastal communities and fully delivers on SDG Mandate 14.6.

  • In the Committee on Trade and Development, Fiji play a vital role as the Pacific Group coordinator, highlighting the difficulties of members from that region, particularly the SIDS, given the unique vulnerabilities they face. The UK is eager to work closely with Fiji and other SVEs to identify how to best build upon the small economies report published earlier this year.

  • Finally, as the former chair of the Committee on Trade and the Environment, let me also pay tribute to the work Fiji does in the environment space. As co-chair of the plastics dialogue, Fiji has facilitated vital discussions¬†around the challenges of plastics pollution and environmentally sustainable plastics trade. Let me emphasise the UK‚Äôs commitment to the various environmental aims of the WTO and our support for Fiji, as they,¬†like many other SIDS and the Deputy Prime Minister set out so clearly, face the most direct and critical impacts of the climate crisis and other environmental challenges. One example of our partnership in this space is a joint event we will be hosting on environmental services at the forthcoming Public Forum in September ‚Äď to which we are particularly looking forward.

  • We also recognise the progress that Fiji has made over the review period regarding WTO notifications, and, like the discussant, we would encourage our Fijian colleagues to continue this positive trend to enhance transparency further.

  • Chair, to conclude, we are grateful to Fiji for engaging in this important transparency exercise and wish them a most successful 4th Review.

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