The Pacific e-commerce portal: Getting Pacific businesses online

A new Pacific e-commerce portal has been launched to help businesses transition from purely physical operation to online trading.

The portal was launched by the Pacific Islands Forum yesterday, and includes self-paced training courses for any traders that want to either transition to online trading or set up an online business.

TradeWorthy Director, Danny Burrows, says a cohort of 74 Pacific negotiators and policy makers completed a course on e-commerce laws and regulations to help them prepare for negotiating and implementing future digital trade agreements and provisions in future Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

One of the Fiji graduates, Akeneta Vonoyauyau, can attest to the benefits of the program, despite the heavy workload it involved.

“I’m a manager responsible for price control and consumer protection with the Fiji Consumer Competition Council, and I realised during the intensive four-week programme that there is much more to e-commerce trading than what I knew about,” said Vonoyauyau.

She said while her field is consumer protection, she understands that there is more involved. “For instance, there is legislative change, cyber security, that needs a more collaborative approach with other agencies administering it,” she said.

Akeneta Vonoyauyau, Manager Price Control, Fiji Consumer Competition Council
Akeneta Vonoyauyau, Manager Price Control, Fiji Consumer Competition Council

Burrow said the training materials are designed to help those with no knowledge of e-commerce, particularly small and medium sized businesses.

The portal also includes resources such as the business toolkit. The founder of Green Banana Paper from the Federated States of Micronesia, Matthew Simpson, spoke about his involvement in putting the toolkit together.

“We prepared the business toolkits with some experts around the Pacific, just trying to create some guidelines for businesses in e-commerce, bringing the businesses from offline to online,” said Simpson.

The business toolkit includes resources for selling products via e-commerce platforms in countries such as Samoa, Vanuatu, and FSM. “These were based on the feedback from communities in private sectors and public sectors through surveys,” Simpson said.

Sectors surveyed include the kava industry, general merchandise, tourism, and cross-border retail businesses.

Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, Fiji’s Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, and the Forum Trade Ministers Chair said “previously we did not have a central repository for tracking ecommerce developments and engagements in the Pacific, and now we welcome one, rich with information and resources. This is a sign of solid progress and strong partnership in the region, and I urge Pacific businesses and policymakers to make effective use of this new tool.”

The portal will continue to be loaded with new and updated information and resources for trading and business needs.

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