Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Manoa Kamikamica has outlined Fiji’s priorities at the 13th Ministerial Conference(MC13) of the World Trade Organisation(WTO) in Abu Dhabi.

“I bring to this 13th Ministerial Conference, the aspirations of the Fijian people, who, despite the trials and tribulations, rely on the interconnectedness of our global trade community and the rules that keep it functioning,” Kamikamica said in his address at the conference.

He acknowledged the unprecedented global challenges of the past two years, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions.

“These challenges have tested our resilience and underscored the importance of international cooperation and solidarity in addressing shared threats and advancing collective prosperity,” he said.

Speaking to the critical importance of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for small island developing states like Fiji, Kamikamica highlighted the role of the WTO in fostering fair and equitable trade rules vital for sustainable development.

Reflecting on Fiji’s achievements since the previous Ministerial Conference, Kamikamica spoke proudly of the country’s progress in trade policy.

“The time since MC12 has been a critical period for Fiji, marked by substantial progress in our trade policy agenda.

“In June 2023, Fiji successfully concluded its fourth trade policy review at the WTO, providing valuable insights and recommendations for enhancing Fiji’s trade policies and strategies,” he said.

As Fiji prepared to participate in MC13, Kamikamica outlined the country’s priorities, particularly in addressing fisheries subsidies and advocating for special treatment for developing countries.

“Our primary focus at MC13 will be on fisheries subsidies and the urgent need to address overcapacity and overfishing.

“We must acknowledge and condemn the decades of subsidisation from industrial fishing nations and fleets, which have perpetuated overfishing and depleted our precious marine resources,” Kamikamica said.

Seeking stronger disciplines on subsidies contributing to overfishing and overcapacity, Fiji called for special and differential treatment for developing countries, including small island states, to address specific challenges and vulnerabilities.

“We are committed to advancing Fiji’s, and collectively the Pacific’s, interests and priorities within the global trade arena. We will advocate for fair and inclusive trade policies that promote sustainable development and benefit all WTO members, particularly small island developing states like Fiji,” he explained.

Kamikamica also emphasised the importance of enhancing market access for Fijian products and addressing non-tariff barriers.

“We will also engage with our WTO counterparts to explore opportunities for enhancing market access for Fijian products, while advocating for measures to address non-tariff barriers that impede our exports,” he stressed.

Fiji remains committed to the principles of transparency and inclusivity in the WTO decision-making process, he said.

“We will actively participate in discussions on WTO reform to strengthen the organisation and ensure its relevance in addressing the evolving needs of the global trading system”.

Kamikamica also expressed Fiji’s commitment to fostering a more inclusive and sustainable global trading system.

“We approach MC13 with a spirit of cooperation and collaboration. Seeking constructive outcomes that contribute to the collective goal of fostering a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient global trading system, he said.