Kiribati Trade Agreements

In addition to mainstreaming policy, my work in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Co-operatives also focuses on the effective implementation of trade policy in Kiribati and on private sector awareness. One of the Division`s core tasks is to ensure that Kiribati`s obligations are effectively implemented in bilateral, regional and international trade agreements, to ensure that the benefits of membership in these agreements are met. To fill this trade policy gap, I helped the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Co-operatives implement initiatives to support trade integration into sectoral strategies and the Kiribati development plan. Training and awareness-raising was given to stakeholders on various trade policy topics. Among them, 200 parliamentarians have been trained and sensitized as senior politicians and legislators since 2014, which has contributed to a substantial interest in trade policy issues. From a political point of view, economic policy reforms are being undertaken to open up the Kiribati economy to trade, including the abolition of the customs tax and the introduction of VAT (VAT) and excise duties on certain products. However, the promotion of the trade development agenda at the national level has been limited by insufficient integration of trade into national and sectoral policies, as trade priorities are not well formulated. Some of my other work has also focused on trade considerations in sector policy. For example, as part of the Labour Mobility Strategy, my contributions focused on Kiribati`s commitment to regional trade agreements, as well as how to maximize the benefits of labour mobility through trade agreements. Kiribati is a small Pacific island development state with a small population of about 110,000. The economy depends largely on the contribution of services to GDP, followed by agriculture, with industry being only weak. From a commercial point of view, exports are limited to coconut and fish products. I was hired as part of the Hub and Spokes II program and was admitted in March 2014 to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Co-operatives in Tarawa, Kiribati, as a national trade advisor.

During this period, the position allowed me to play a key role in participating in the trade and development agenda at a broader and sectoral level. The Trade Promotion Division of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives is responsible for formulating and developing appropriate policies and strategies, in coordination with national trade policy and promotion stakeholders.