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New Pacific e-commerce portal

Businesses in Pacific island nations are lagging behind the world when it comes to doing business online including accessing markets.

The Pacific Islands Forum this week launched an e-commerce portal that is designed to help businesses no matter how small, make the most of online trading and transactions.

The portal is a regional repository to boost e-commerce by providing information on available development programs.

It provides resources such as toolkits to help businesses move their operations online, training courses to help build capacity for pacific policymakers, and a library consolidating regional analysis and national and regional e-commerce strategies.

The portal also presents the first regional database of e-commerce statistics to support evidence-based policy making and provides information from partners of the Pacific E-commerce Initiative.

The development of the Pacific E-commerce Portal and training course on E-Commerce are amongst key priorities of the Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap.

PIF director programmes Zarak Khan, Fiji minister for trade Faiyaz Koya and PIF secretary general Henry Puna at the launch of the e-commerce portal. Picture: PIF

Forum secretary general Henry Puna said e-commerce information and data in the Pacific is near absent or scattered.

“Therefore, in line with the vision of the regional e-Commerce Strategy, we now present to you the Pacific E-commerce Portal, a comprehensive online repository on digital trade to ensure that ecommerce information reaches our policymakers and all other stakeholders, in helping them making informed decisions,” he said.

“Pacific businesses and entrepreneurs have toolkits to help them move their operations online; and thirdly, our negotiators have access to high-quality trainings and data to be effective up-takers and implementers of digital trade rules.”

The idea of e-commerce is relatively new to most Pacific countries, however, e-commerce negotiations have commenced at the bilateral, regional and international level, and the Pacific is not exempt.

The COVID-19 situation altered the world, changing the way people think and live, including how people purchase products and services.

The shift towards e-commerce underlines the need for businesses to continually innovate to stay competitive.

The portal allows training and understanding of simple e-commerce tools online to help Pacific businesses. Picture: PIF

For some services, e-commerce can all but eliminate the tyranny of distance facing Pacific Micro Small and Medium Enterprises.

Regional work on e-commerce started in 2017, with diagnostic studies conducted in 11 member countries. These studies eventually culminated in the development of the Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap that was endorsed by Forum Trade Ministers in August 2021.

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The Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap charts the way forward to boost digital trade. It does so by recommending 54 regional measures.

When implemented, these regional actions will help achieve the level of ambition set out by the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent – both in the Thematic Area of Technology and Connectivity, and in Area of People-Centered Development.

The portal can be accessed HERE.

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