The Pacific region suffers from a dearth of quality trade data. Problems with collecting, processing and disseminating trade data has led to an information gap that has undermined trade negotiations and policy analysis. Subsequently in 2007, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) entered into a partnership to address this problem. The SPC now acts as a regional node for collecting and processing regional trade data from member countries and disseminating the data to other users such as FAO / United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and other Committee of Regional Organizations in the Pacific (CROP) agencies.
The original motivation of the project was from FAO who for a number of years have been receiving trade data from a small number of Pacific Island Countries but not from the majority of countries. They instigated the project to try and improve the collection of trade statistics but also to see if there was more that FAO and SPC could be doing together to assist countries in the processing of trade statistics.
The FAO partnered with SPC to develop a regional trade statistics database that can be used by countries, regional and international organizations to improve the quality of analysis and advice and ultimately decisions in the region. The objective of the project was to assist Pacific Island Countries (PICs) through SPC to improve the quality of relevant statistical information, which would in turn assist negotiations for regional free trade agreements; reduce the burden of requests for trade data placed upon National Statistics Offices (NSO) by national and international stakeholders; and support of FAOs regional priority, which is to assist countries to better assess their food security through the Food Balance Sheet methodology
The SPC is an intergovernmental organisation that provides technical and policy advice and assistance to its Pacific Island members. SPC was established as an international organisation in 1947 and has 26 member countries and territories. The mission of SPC is ‘to help Pacific Island people position themselves to respond effectively to the challenges they face and make informed decisions about their future and the future they wish to leave for the generations that follow’.
The Regional Trade Statistics Database is based at SPC’s Land Resources Division (LRD). LRD’s core business is to improve the food and nutritional security of the Pacific Community through the sustainable management and development of land, agriculture and forestry resources. This is accomplished through the delivery of technical support, training and advice to our member country governments in the areas of plant protection, conservation and use of plant genetic resources, animal health and production, agro-forestry, sustainable systems for agriculture, forestry and land management, and bio-security and trade facilitation.
Through this project, SPC will continue to provide capacity building assistance to government statistics departments and to contribute to improving the quality and availability of statistical information on trade.