A step forward for the Pacific E-commerce Governance
In July 2023, the Pacific E-commerce Committee (PEC) approved the terms of reference of two sub-committees through an out-of-session decision. The newly approved Private Sector E-commerce Sub-committee and the Development Partners E-commerce Sub-committee mark a significant advancement in the governance structure that supports the Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap (the Strategy).
With 54 measures, the Strategy is supported by a sound governance mechanism to ensure its smooth implementation. At the core of the coordination mechanism lies PEC, which comprises of E-commerce focal points from Forum Island Countries (members), implementing agencies (observers) and donor partners (observers). PEC was established to oversee the implementation of the Strategy. Since E-commerce is one of the four priorities for the Pacific Aid-for-Trade Policy, this makes PEC the only regional e-commerce committee that can take meaningful decisions and provide recommendations to the Forum Trade Ministers through the Aid-for-Trade Steering Committee.
At its inaugural meeting in December 2022, PEC agreed to create two Sub-committees to ensure effectiveness. One for the private sector, comprising representatives from Forum members to ensure that the business perspective is fully integrated during implementation. The second is for development partners to allow implementing entities and donors to review performance of existing regional projects, discuss future projects and alignment to PEC recommendations, and coordinate actions to maximize impact and value for money.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) E-commerce Unit plays a crucial role in delivering secretariat support to PEC and its sub-committees, ensuring a commitment to coherence between the different meeting groups and the Ministers’ meeting. Forum members who are in the process of developing or implementing their National E-commerce Strategies can use the regional E-commerce governance structure as a readily available blueprint.
Figure 1: Governance structure underpinning the coordination of the implementation of the Strategy
Source: Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap, 2021
Mr Noah Patrick Kouback, PIFS Programme Adviser Trade, expressed enthusiasm about these developments, ‘I am very pleased for the formation of these sub-committees. Businesses play a pivotal role in stimulating E-commerce, and their insights are crucial for shaping the strategic oversight of the Strategy. The Private Sector E-commerce Sub-committee facilitates this integration. Equally important, our donor partners and implementing agencies drive E-commerce initiatives across our region. Their involvement in the governance structure is now made possible through the Development Partners E-commerce Sub-committee’.
The formation of the two sub-committees successfully puts into action the Governance recommendations of the Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy approved by Forum Trade Ministers in 2021. Inaugural meetings of the Sub-committees are expected to happen in late 2023.