SICCI hosts successful discussion on LDC and IEPA

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THE Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) yesterday hosted a successful Business Breakfast event which included an informative presentation and panel discussion on Solomon Islands’ graduation from a Least Developed Countries (LDC) status and the proposed Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA)at the Heritage Park in Honiara.

Mr George Tuti, Director Trade of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) presented on the IEPA, a free trade agreement and its relationship and arrangement with the EU and former colonies.

Ms Matsuko Pelomo, Chief Planning Officer of the Ministry of Development, Planning and Aid Coordination (MDPAC) updated the business community and the private sector on Solomon Islands’ graduation from LDC status.

The presentations provided an opportunity for members of the business community and private sector to get firsthand information about the LDC graduation and its implication to Solomon Islands especially on the export sector and the benefits of agreeing to the IEPA.

The panel discussion that followed provided further insights with expert views from a high-level panel comprising of Mr Peter Kenilorea Jr, Permanent Secretary MFAET, Mr Shadrach Fanega, Permanent Secretary MDPAC, Mr Jim Alexander, General Manager Soltuna, Joseph Ma’ahunua, Trade Commissioner DFAET, Frank Wickham, Managing Director, NFD and Mr Craig Gibsone, General Manager GPPOL and SICCI Board member.

SICCI’s Advocacy Officer, John Ta’amora says the event saw a positive outcome not only for the business community but also for all stakeholders including the Solomon Islands Government.

“This was an important event because we have discussed two interesting topics that are overlapping.

“LDC graduation and IEPA cannot be discussed in isolation because LDC gives rise to IEPA and the need for it,” says Mr Ta’amora.

“More importantly is the fact that members of the public sector, from the government and the private sector from SICCI are able to sit in one room and discuss these two topics,” he added.

Ta’amora said it is encouraging to see signs of Public-Private Partnership unfolding during the Business Breakfast event.

“The IEPA signing process which MFAET is working on reinforces the need for collaborative efforts between Government and stakeholders including the private sector.

“Perhaps, what we can take from the Business Breakfast is that the public sector through the government and private sector through SICCI must put their heads together to take on national challenges both now and in the future,” he said.

SICCI’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Dennis Meone acknowledge and applauds the Government for taking lead to willingly participate in the panel discussion.

“The private sector, through SICCI as their peak representative, and the business community appreciates the Government for being upfront on this issue.

“The panel discussion enables them to understand the implication of LDC graduation and get deep insights into some of the challenges and potential opportunities that are attached to the LDC graduation process,” Meone says.