Facilitation of External Trade, Free Trade Agreements and Regional FTA’S (Free Trade Agreements)
Currently Vanuatu is a signatory and party to a sub-regional and regional free trade agreements, the MSGFTA and PICTA whilst negotiations on EU-EPA and PACER Plus is still underway which is expected to be completed soon. The commitment to participate in such FTA stems from its national trade policy framework that mainstream trade into Vanuatu’s national development strategies including the Priority Action Agenda (PAA). Obviously Vanuatu is keen to include the policy of free trade to the national development strategies because of the fact that free trade is considered a driving force of increasing economic productivity leading to a stable and viable economic growth. The establishment of WTO emanates from the philosophy of free trade where each members are encouraged to liberalize trade within their respective territories in order to boast economic growth through increased Investment opportunities, resource utilization, market efficiency, increased employment opportunities and increase the opportunity of income generation.
MSG (Melanesian Spearhead Group Free Trade Agreement)
Vanuatu is a party to the MSG FTA which is a sub-regional Free Trade Agreement between Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.
Under MSG FTA, goods produced within the MSG countries are given preferential duty free access amongst each parties. There are two trading approaches, the positive list approach which allow zero duty entry and the negative list approach which allow protective duty rates with a phase out reduction timeframes. However these two approaches ended since January 1st 2013 where Vanuatu has fully liberalize its tariff schedule committed under the MSGTA. This means all products meeting the MSG Rules of origin criteria may claim the preferential duty free access upon importation.
The goods eligible to be traded under the MSG FTA must meet the MSG Rules of Origin Criteria which is based on the CTH (Change of Tariff Heading) at the minimum of six digit level of a customs tariff and be accompanied by an MSG Certificate of Origin form A from the exporting MSG Country. Goods in transit for repacking are not eligible for the MSG duty concession. To view the MSG Certificate of Origin (click ROO FORMS)
PICTA (Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement)
Although Vanuatu has signed and announce its readiness to the PICTA agreement, as one of the least developed nations within the Pacific forum island countries, the tariff reduction timeframe comes into effect on January 1st 2009. Until recently, there is almost no trade between Vanuatu and the PFIC members under PICTA agreement, however MSG member countries prefer to trade under the MSGTA than PICTA.
The PICTA Rules of Origin (ROO) criteria is based on the Value Added Method of 40 % local component. To view the PICTA Certificate of Origin (click ROO FORMS) the national focal point for PICTA is the Department of Foreign Affairs.
PACER (Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Cooperation)
Vanuatu has not yet signed the PACER agreement. It is envisaged that a decision to formally ratify the PACER will be determined after negotiations are schedule to complete on December 2014.
ACP EU EPA (Africa Caribbean Pacific European Partnership Agreement)
Vanuatu is actively participating with other Pacific Island Countries in the EPA regional meetings and negotiations with the EU. At some later stage Vanuatu will be in a much better position to be able to determine its future stand with regard to the EPA and ratify the agreement. The national EU EPA focal point is the Department of Industry and External Trade.
WTO (World Trade Organization)
Vanuatu’s accession package was approved on the 26th of October 2011 and on the 24th of August 2012 WTO welcome Vanuatu as its 157th member. The accession process has taken a good number of years stimulating much heated arguments prior to its accession into this organisation. The national WTO focal point is the Department of Industry and External Trade.