PHAMA’s objective is to promote sustainable economic growth in the Pacific through promoting exports of primary and value added products. Since the Program’s beginning, a core part of its approach in each country has been to promote a strong partnership and dialogue between private sector and those government departments regulating trade. In the past, Pacific Island Governments have too often decided on which products and markets to support without conferring with exporters. This has led to prioritising scarce resources on commercially unviable initiatives.
To address this issue and encourage effective partnerships between government and the private sector, PHAMA has helped to establish Market Access Working Groups (MAWGs) and (in some cases) Industry Working Groups (IWGs) in each of the PHAMA countries. These MAWGs are a key innovation under PHAMA, bringing together members of the public and private sectors, often for the first time, to discuss market access challenges.
Typically, a MAWG has 8-10 members, including representatives from relevant government agencies, such as Quarantine/Biosecurity, Trade and Agriculture, and the private sector (exporters and producer groups). IWGs operate in a similar manner to MAWGs, but are focused on single industries. They have been established for a number of strategic industries in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and are in the process of being set up in PNG.
To provide ongoing benefits to primary industries beyond the life of the PHAMA Program, it is important to ensure that these dynamic partnerships between the public and private sectors continue into the future. Consequently, the promotion of MAWG and IWG sustainability is a core focus for PHAMA. MAWG and IWG “sustainability roadmaps” have been developed, outlining steps that need to be taken to promote sustainability. These include addressing issues such as: government and donor recognition; on-going funding for secretariat and activity costs; industry representation; and strategic planning and governance.