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Opening Remarks-Henry Puna, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum


Two opening speakers, three moderated panels, and closing comments all bursting with ideas, Pacific realities, and global relevance. Held on Friday 4th March 2022, the Pacific Islands Digital Trade Dialogue was a collab event between the Pacific Islands Forum and USAID, through their development alliance with the global Alliance for eTrade Development. The Global E-trade Alliance is a major convening partnership for 12 leading private sector partners (Cargill, DHL, eCommerce Institute, Element, Etsy, Google, Mastercard, Mexican Association of Online Sales, PayPal, Ringier One Africa Media, UPS, and Visa) aimed to enable developing country micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to engage in ecommerce.

The Alliance promotes MSME skills development for ecommerce, access to finance, fluid ecommerce logistics, and policies and regulations conducive to ecommerce. Special attention is paid to women-led and rural firms. They are aware of the progress made in the Pacific region to arrive at a regional strategy and workstreams to support MSME ecommerce and are looking to support the implementation of these workstreams in 2022, which includes recovery from the negative impact of COVID-19.
The digital trade dialogue provides a starting point between selected Alliance members and Pacific Islands private and public sector leaders to together identify impactful solutions to support MSME ecommerce in the region including securing the buy-in from all stakeholders.
The dialogue, a collab with the Pacific Islands Forum through Pacific Trade Invest, ran a series of three panels to help identify and formulate proof of concepts that can promote ecommerce for Pacific MSMEs, explore business model, programmatic, policy, and technology solutions to support Pacific Island economies’ efforts to grow MSMEs’ online sales, especially to foreign markets.

Discussions covered challenges to Pacific Island MSMEs’ engagement in domestic and cross-border ecommerce.

  • Business, technology, and policy, programmatic solutions to these challenges, in key areas such as MSME capacity-building, cross-border payments, and cross-border and last-mile logistics; and
  • Pilot program ideas to operationalize the discussed solutions to promote MSME ecommerce, including with local stakeholders and international donors.