International Economics Consulting Ltd. (IEC) provided technical assistance to the Government of Samoa in preparation for, and during, its first WTO Trade Policy Review (TPR) that was set to take place in April 2019. This included assisting Samoa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to prepare the government’s policy statement (country report) and providing written responses to the WTO’s report as well as the written and oral responses to questions that would be raised by WTO Members.
WTO Trade Policy Review in Samoa
The Project at A Glance
What We Found
Samoa graduated from Least Developed Country (LDC) status in January 2014. However, structural vulnerabilities remain, especially when it comes to economic and environmental volatility. The country’s economic development opportunities are constrained by inherent challenges including distance from major centres of economic activity, a small domestic market, as well as high frequency and intensity of natural disasters largely due to climate change.
Nonetheless, the small island developing state’s economic growth has been steady with a peak growth of 7.1% observed in 2015/2016 owing predominantly to the expansion of the fisheries sector; the construction of two large hotels and the hosting of international events such as the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games.
Given the small domestic production base, the island relies significantly on a wide range of imports. Thus, the country is predominantly a net importer of goods. The trade in goods deficit was estimated to be 2.3% of GDP in 2017. The island state has a restricted number of tradeable sectors and despite WTO accession, the country has known little diversification. The country’s exports were concentrated along six key commodities namely fish; nonu; juice; beer; taro; coconut and virgin coconut oil. However, there is the potential for the country to advance other emerging sectors such as bottled spring water, cocoa products (pods and beans), cigarettes, scrap metal and bananas. Export markets are also restricted to a few countries namely American Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, the USA, Tokelau, Japan, Fiji, and China.
Our Strategy and Impact
The specific objective of this project was to assist Samoa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to prepare the Government’s first TPR report and to provide written responses to the WTO Secretariat’s draft report as well as the written and oral responses to questions that might be raised by Members before and during the TPRB meeting. The technical assistance included some of the following tasks:
- Facilitating national consultations with the relevant national agencies to share information related to the TPR and gathering information necessary for drafting the Government of Samoa’s country report.
- Analysing the WTO Secretariat Report and preparing written responses on its observations to Samoa’s Trade Department for submission to the WTO and, where necessary to incorporate responses in the country report.
- Preparing a country report on Samoa’s trade policies and practices, policymaking institutions, and macroeconomic situation, and submitting the draft report to Samoa’s Trade Department for comments.
Our Core Solutions
With the rapid proliferation of trade agreements worldwide, there are new market and investment opportunities for countries to explore. We prepare clients to navigate trade and investment negotiations and advocate for their best interests. We also provide customised advocacy solutions for sustainable growth. From determining our clients’ specific requirements and interests to designing an effective strategy, we represent and advocate for our clients in various trade-related matters and facilitate coordination between different organisations.