Regional Trade Workshop for Commonwealth Pacific Island Countries

The Commonwealth Secretariat (CS) and the Office of the Chief Trade Advisor (OCTA) Secretariat hosted a five-day trade facilitation symposium which included a training workshop by the Negotiation Lab on February 7th & 8th, 2013 at the Melanesian Hotel in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Thirty-six senior officials representing the  Cook IslandsFederal States of MicronesiaKiribatiMarshall IslandsNauruNiuePapua New GuineaSamoaSolomon IslandsTongaTuvalu,  and  Vanuatu  attended. The program was funded by the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation.

The Harvard method of “Principle Negotiation” was taught and demonstrated through simulation exercises, lectures and a new Commonwealth guide for small state negotiators entitled “Against the Odds – A Guide to Trade Negotiations for Developing Countries” written for the CS by Emily Jones of the Global Economic Governance Program at Oxford University.  

OCTA helps countries in the region negotiate with their main trading partners - Australia and New Zealand.

Yuri Buraman, a desk officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade from Nauru said: “I  learned a lot from the exercises and simulations. This was the first time I have gone through training on how to formulate trade policies. I believe I will be much better at my job when I return home.”

Sumbule Antas, Vanuatu Director of External Trade, said his department was in dire need of trained and skilled staff to handle the complex issues the country has to deal with in regional and international negotiations.

“I have only four members of staff, who have little experience in working on trade issues. In fact, some of them have only spent three months on the job. This training from the Commonwealth Secretariat was timely.”

Commonwealth Pacific Islands Trade Workshop - February 2013