Building Digital Capacity: PIFS Launches Second Cycle of E-commerce Rules for Pacific Policymakers

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) proudly announces the commencement of the second iteration of its E-commerce Rules Course for Policymakers. This blended course builds upon the training materials available on the Pacific E-commerce Portal, recently updated to reflect the latest developments.

The opening of the 8-week part-time course was officiated by Mr Noah Patrick Kouback, PIFS Programmes Adviser  (Trade) and H.E. David Yardley, Australia’s Chief Negotiator on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Joint Initiative on e-commerce (JSI). Both emphasised the pivotal role of PIFS in shaping the regulatory future of digital trade in the region.

Covering over 50 key issues, the course aims to bring PIFS officials up to speed with the latest trends in digital rulemaking. This is an important and urgent objective since, as explained by Mr Yardley, “Achieving inclusive growth and development amid the digital transformation of economies is a high priority throughout our region and the world. Ambitious, balanced and consistent digital trade rules, taking shape currently in many forums, play a vital role in unlocking the full benefits of the digital economy”.

As noted by Mr Zarak Khan, PIFS Director of Programmes and Initiatives, “Pacific Islands are only making their first steps on e-commerce rulemaking. However, in the case of the digital rules, being slightly behind is also a chance – to learn from the experiences of others, and to leapfrog to the new level”.

The course is aligned with the disciplines negotiated at the Joint Initiative on e-commerce at the WTO, a plurilateral forum that will shape the future of digital trade. Although none of the six FICs-WTO Members have formally joined these talks, the course aims to prepare participants for potential engagement. Ms Sally Wyatt, Chief Economist at the Cook Islands Ministry of Finance and Economic Management and alumni of the 1st cycle of the Course said, “This course provides an excellent opportunity for Pacific policymakers to deep-dive into the language of e-commerce rules, explain the purpose and expected impact of those rules; and pin-point the hurdles Pacific countries face in implementing the rules.  I found it eye-opening and informative.”

Developed in collaboration with digital trade professionals from international organizations (UNCITRAL, UNCTAD, UNESCAP, WTO, and the Commonwealth Secretariat) and development partners (Australia, Japan, and Singapore), the PIFS E-commerce Rules Course for the Policymakers implements Measure 4.2.1 of the Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap.

Supported by the Australian Aid Program and the European Union’s SPIRIT project, the course aims to equip policymakers with the knowledge and skills needed for effective participation in the evolving landscape of digital trade.

The first cohort, comprising 74 policymakers, successfully completed the course in April 2022, praising it as “timely,” “eye-opening,” and “very informative.” The new graduates will join their peers in March 2024 within a newly established Pacific E-commerce Community of Practice.

For more information: PIFS press release

Online training material from the first cycle of the PIFS E-commerce Rules for policymakers: here

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