The Pacific Trade Statistics Database is an exciting new resource for practitioners across the Pacific. Launched at a series of workshops in 2010 by the Land Resources Division of SPC, the database is a publically accessible resource, searchable by non-experts and covering data on all traded products in the Pacific during the last 10 years. It can be accessed at www.pacifictradestatistics.com .
The objective of the project is to provide data and facilitate analysis to assist Pacific Island Countries (PICs) in their negotiation of 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 the regional priority of FAO which is to assist countries to better assess their food security through the Food Balance Sheet methodology.
Trade data is an essential source of information for informing policy and policy-makers, including for trade negotiations, private sector investment decisions, and monitoring economic impacts of trade policies and development agency decision. However, until recently the Pacific Islands region had suffered from a paucity of quality and quantity of trade data.
The FAO and SPC trade statistics project was initially focused on 14 Pacific countries: Cook Islands, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, FSM, Nauru, Palau. Eleven of the countries have provided data and are involved while the other three are expected to join soon. The long term aim is to extend the database beyond the current 13 Pacific Island Countries to all 26 SPC member countries and territories.
Screenshot of the database:
The project initially began in 2007, and in 2009 when funding from FAO and other sources was concluding, the European Union – Facilitating Agriculture commodity trade (EU-FACT) project agreed to support the development of a publically searchable online database based in SPC’s Land Resources Division. It was recognized that this database was vital for providing regularly updated Pacific Island ACP country export trade data and baseline information upon which to consider impact of FACT project. Currently, the project is funded by Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) program.
The trade database will help in compilation of the Food Balance Sheets that are needed to assess progress towards Millennium Development Goals (MDG). It will also be used to identify trends in production as well as use of imported agricultural inputs such as seeds and feeds. And in due course, the project will contribute significantly to improved analysis and decision making at national and regional level, illustrating that with modest but dedicated resources, access to Pacific Islands trade statistics can be greatly enhanced.
By expanding the database to include new Pacific Island Countries, and by working directly with country stakeholders to improve their capacity to process and improve national data, this project is beginning to successfully improve the trade statistical capacity of the Pacific region.