Tuesday, 01 June 2010 11:14

The Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) programme is a new trade facilitation programme by AusAID to assist the Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) to address market access issues.

The difficulties faced by PICTs in managing the regulatory processes associated with accessing key markets are a major constraint for exporters of agricultural produces from PICTs. Progress in negotiating new or improved access has been slow, resulting in a high level of frustration within industry and wasted export opportunities. New market access (MA) agreements have been few and hard won, and trade in some products has stagnated and in some cases declined due to the imposition of more onerous MA protocols for products that were historically traded with relative ease. The key constraints to improving MA include:

  • poor identification of MA priorities leading to the highly limited resources available within both exporting and importing country regulatory agencies being squandered on submissions that are unlikely to be successful or even if successful unlikely to result in significant economic gains;
  • limited ability of export country regulatory agencies to prepare and progress high-quality MA submissions;
  • limited capacity of exporting countries to implement sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures required to comply with MA agreements;
  • limited capacity to identify and conduct research and development required to establish, improve or maintain MA;
  • lack of industry consultation and involvement in MA work; and
  • limited capacity to support MA development activities.

PHAMA will provide a mechanism to support and expand export market opportunities for horticultural and other agricultural commodities. The programme will create a regional organisational infrastructure that will: identify and prioritise products to target, facilitate the development of information for and progression of market access submissions, ensure their follow-up through the approval system of importing countries’ regulatory agencies, and facilitate the implementation of any necessary processes in exporting country government agencies.

Approach and methodology

Core elements of the approach and methodology include:

  • Implementation of a structured, strategic, and actively managed approach to addressing regulatory aspects of MA.
  • Focus on high-value primary products (fresh and processed), particularly agricultural and horticultural but also fish and forest products where warranted.
  • Targeted approach aimed at identifying and working with highest priority products and MA issues. Depending on the particular product and issue, this could potentially involve seeking new access for new products, improving access for existing trade (e.g. through negotiation of less onerous quarantine requirements), or maintaining access by developing capacity to meet required SPS protocols.
  • Major focus on Australian and New Zealand markets, with active pursuit of improved access to other markets (e.g. Japan, European Union, USA, Canada, intra-Pacific trade).
  • Development of a strong partnership between industry and relevant national government agencies in the pursuit of improved MA. The private sector should drive the identification of products to be targeted, it should be fully consulted during the development of MA submissions and agreements, it will need to play a major role in determining research and development priorities, and it will be an important partner in the implementation of MA protocols.
  • Selection of particular MA issues to be addressed on the basis of: (i) potential economic impact, (ii) cost of establishing MA and probability of achieving a successful outcome, and (iii) potential distributional impacts for more marginalised households and women.
  • Implementation of a two-pronged approach to capacity building: (i) building SPC’s capacity to provide a clearly defined set of generic, higher-level MA-support services in line with its regional mandate; and (ii) developing the capacity of national organisations (public and private) to manage MA issues, while recognising that many of the smaller PICTs are likely to remain dependent on facilitation by SPC and other external service providers in the longer term. Capacity building will be strongly centred on ‘learning by doing’ approaches.
  • Seeking explicit, costed contributions from both government and industry wherever the opportunity and capacity exists.

PROGRAMME COMPONENTS: PHAMA has 4 major components:

Component 1 – Development and Processing of Market Access Submissions

This component focuses on supporting the preparation and processing of submissions related to gaining, maintaining and improving access for highest priority products. The key outcomes will include:

  1. Developing a mechanism for prioritising market access submissions.
  2. Establishing mechanisms for improving coordination and communication between and within industry groups and exporting government agencies.
  3. Prioritising market access requests.
  4. Preparing market access submissions.
  5. Preparing preliminary risk management packages.
  6. Enhancing bilateral coordination and communications.

Component 2 – Implementation of Market Access Requirements

Component 2 will develop the capacity of exporting countries to meet critical biosecurity and quarantine requirements, underpinning the maintenance of market access for highest priority products. The major outcomes will include:

  1. Developing operational procedures required to meet biosecurity and quarantine protocols.
  2. Developing capacity of quarantine officers, exporters, producers and treatment facility operators to implement required procedures.
  3. Developing capacity of export producers to meet industry ‘best practice’ codes.
  4. Ensuring phytosanitary treatment, sanitary handling and diagnostic facilities are established/upgraded and operating effectively.
  5. Ensuring government agencies are adequately resourced to perform key biosecurity and quarantine functions.

Component 3 – Research and Development

This component provides support to the conduct of research and development activities required to establish, improve or maintain market access for highest priority products. The major outcomes will include:

  1. Completion of pest surveys and preparation of pest lists.
  2. Defining or refining sanitary and phytosanitary treatment protocols.
  3. Developing product standards.
  4. Assessing applicability and application of International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs).
  5. Assessing export market potential and identifying critical non-regulatory supply chain constraints.

Component 4 – Regional Support

The fourth component focuses on strengthening the capacity of SPC to provide core regional market access support services:

  1. Providing market access information to national-level stakeholders in a responsive and timely manner.
  2. Effectively linking PICTs with relevant international fora.
  3. Strengthening capacity of national quarantine and biosecurity organisations in core areas.
  4. Preparing and distributing quarantine and biosecurity extension materials.
  5. Progress in MA assessed and promoted to industry and government in other PICTs.

Duration and phasing: The programme will run for eight years. Phase 1 will run from mid-2009 to mid-2013, with the first year (2009/2010) focussed on finalisation of the design and implementation of a range of pre-startup activities. Progression to Phase 2 (mid-2013 to mid-2017) will be dependent on the performance of Phase 1.

Geographic focus: For targeted MA activities (i.e. activities for Components 1–3), Phase 1 will focus on Fiji Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. Phase 2 could expand to other PICTs deemed to have strong export opportunities. Component 4 (SPC-managed regional support services) will be extended to all PICTs from the beginning of Phase 1 in line with SPC’s regional mandate.

Governance and management arrangements: A regional Programme Coordinating Committee will be responsible for providing high-level governance oversight of the programme. The committee will liaise closely with the SPC governing council.

A Market Access Working Group (MAWG) will be established (or strengthened if a suitable institution already exists) in each of the five PICTs where PHAMA is implemented. The MAWGs will include representation from key government agencies and industry and will have major responsibility for determining MA priorities and action plans and coordinating the implementation of programme activities in each country. National Market Access Coordinators will be employed by the programme in each country, providing secretariat support to the MAWGs and maintaining an operational linkage between the PMO and the MAWGs.