Hon Tim Groser, the New Zealand Minister of Trade and a candidate for the position of WTO Director General, called on his counterpart, the Hon Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo today and discussed a range of regional and multilateral trade issues. Samoa is the first stop by Minister Groser in a wider visit to the Pacific.
Minister Groser expressed his thanks to the Government of Samoa for its support for his candidacy for the WTO Director General position. Minister Fonotoe noted that Samoa had looked carefully at the merits of each of the nine candidates in making its decision. In determining its position, Samoa was concerned to support a candidate who not only had the necessary combination of political and technical skills essential for the role, but also one who understood the specific needs of the Pacific Islands region.
"Mr Groser has demonstrated his understanding of the needs of developing countries in the multilateral trading system and our discussions today have underlined his strong commitment to engage on issues of interest to the Pacific islands region. It is very important for development in the region that we have in place leaders in multilateral institutions who are familiar with our specific concerns. "
The two Ministers discussed how the WTO could better support the interests of Pacific Island countries in the WTO. Minister Fonotoe outlined Samoa's efforts post accession to implement its WTO commitments, noting Samoa's interest in receiving additional support from the WTO secretariat in this regard. Minister Groser underlined that he was committed to ensuring that the WTO assisted its members in accessing the benefits of membership. As Director General, he said, he would look at concrete and practical ways that the WTO mechanisms can be better oriented to developing country needs and how the organisation can work more closely with other international institutions to find practical ways to provide technical assistance and to build capacity for those members who need it most. Minister Fonotoe thanked the Minister and noted his appreciation for his enduring commitment to advancing Pacific trade and broader development interests.
The two Ministers noted New Zealand's strong links with the Pacific as well as the special relationship between New Zealand and Samoa underpinned by the Treaty of Friendship. Minister Groser highlighted his commitment, if elected, to maintain these strong and enduring connections.