Pacific-EU SPIRIT project marks Micronesia milestone
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Suva— The Federated States of Micronesia is now officially a host to the EU-funded Strengthening Pacific Intra-Regional and International Trade Project or SPIRIT, an initiative that supports 15 Pacific island states’ trade policies and facilitates access to European and international markets.
The FSM signed the host-country agreement today, completing the process for the program jointly initiated by the Pacific Islands Forum and the European Union.
Philip Mercado, who has been named trade advisor for the Micronesian sub-region, now joins his counterparts, Jillateno Juma for Vanuatu-based Melanesia; and Stephen Musubire, for Tonga-based Polynesia.
Both had deployed to their Forum postings with MSG Secretariat in Port Vila, and the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development in Nuku’alofa, Tonga in May.
SPIRIT covers the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the FSM, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Tonga. They are assisted to develop their trade policy and execute aid for trade projects through the initiative.
The EU aims to strengthen economic regional integration and the capacity of Pacific states to better benefit from international trade.
Trade advisors will form a team to coordinate the Pacific region trade policy and aid for trade programs and address their different needs.
“Today, we will come full circle in completing this process with the important sub-region of Micronesia after the signature of the host agreement today with the Federated States of Micronesia’s Department of Resources and Development,” said Dr. Filimon Manoni, the Forum’s acting secretary general.
Manoni emphasized the importance of mainstreaming trade in national development strategies and moving to effective implementation to bring greater prosperity to the region.
“Our people need international trade to access goods and services for human consumption. Trade is, therefore, essential for our survival,” he said.
Manoni stressed the need for Pacific island states to access products that are not available in domestic markets, such as medicines.
"Our large and small businesses need cheaper inputs that are not available locally to make a decent profit and keep our people employed with incomes to sustain their livelihoods," Manoni said. "In essence, we cannot achieve sustainable development without trade.”
As the Forum’s SPIRIT trade adviser for Micronesia, Mercado will relocate to Pohnpei in early November.
Hailing from Papua New Guinea, his technical background lies in international trade, customs and fisheries. His mission will cover FSM, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau.
Elina Akinaga officiated the signing ceremony on behalf of the FSM. The EU Delegation Office for the Pacific was represented by Deputy Ambassador Erja Askola.
The SPIRIT project comes under the EU PRISE program in the Pacific region, valued at EUR 26.25 million or FJD 60.50 million.