The reliability and affordability of vital shipping services for Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu will be in focus at a forum that begins today in Suva, Fiji, hosted by the Pacific Community (SPC).
Among the issues to be considered by Ministers for Transport and other representatives of each government, shipping companies and SPC maritime specialists are improving national coordination and public-private partnerships to facilitate trade and the conduct of energy audits to improve maritime port efficiency.
Boosting engagement with the private sector to further improve shipping connectivity in the Central Pacific sub-region will also be discussed at the three-day Central Pacific Shipping Commission (CPSC) Annual General Meeting.
Created in January 2014, the CPSC is an initiative born out of a call by leaders of Pacific small island states to have reliable, affordable and sustainable shipping.
SPC provides secretariat services for the commission along with technical advice to its four member countries on a range of maritime-related issues linked to sustainable development.
The underpinning issues CPSC continues to address, and which will be highlighted at the meeting, are how the Central Pacific sub-region can overcome challenges faced in improving affordability, reliability and sustainability of international maritime transport services.
Preliminary studies by SPC suggest that the CPSC model has contributed to an increased frequency of ships, with two visits per month for each CPSC country member over the past 18 months; better affordability of shipping through stabilised freight rates; and improved sustainability of shipping services by guaranteeing countries short-to-medium term certainty of service provision.
“The annual general meeting will be an opportunity to meet with partners, who are the shippers given the Entry Assurance Certificate to service the commission region, and to review performance of these shippers as well as to dialogue on ways to address ongoing challenges and sustaining shipping services,” the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Republic of Marshall Islands, Phil Philippo, said at the meeting.
SPC has provided in-country technical assistance to establish national shipping councils in order to improve national coordination and adopt a data collection system which will serve as an improvement in supply chain efficiency, leading to competitive freight rates in line with other Pacific sub-regions.
The meeting concludes on 1 September.