The Office of the Chief Trade Adviser (OCTA) provides independent advice and support to the Forum Island Countries in the negotiations of PACER Plus with Australia and New Zealand. It is based in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The OCTA is owned by and is under the exclusive control of the Forum Island Countries (FICs). It is based in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
The current members of the OCTA are thirteen FICs. These are: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
In June 2009, Forum Trade Ministers agreed to the establishment of the OCTA. This decision was in recognition of the need for the FICs to have independent advice and technical support on trade negotiations. Ministers also recommended to Leaders to commence PACER Plus negotiations after the Forum Leaders’ Meeting.
In August 2009, Forum Leaders agreed to the Forum Trade Ministers’ recommendation to commence PACER Plus negotiations forthwith. They also welcomed the decision of the Forum Trade Ministers to establish the OCTA.
The OCTA began operation on 29 March 2010 initially under an interim arrangement with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. The OCTA was incorporated under the Law of Vanuatu as a charitable association on 17 March 2011. The OCTA is now operating as an independent legal entity.
The Work of the OCTA
The OCTA assists the FICs to analyse trade policy issues, develop negotiating strategy, facilitate the development and coordination of negotiating positions, build trade negotiation capacity, and advance their positions in trade negotiation meetings.
Based on Article 3 of the OCTA Constitution, the objects of the OCTA are:
- (a) The provision of support and assistance to the Forum Island Countries in the negotiation of trade, development and economic cooperation arrangements with Australia and New Zealand, currently referred to as PACER Plus, and related activities to promote the general social welfare of the Forum Island Countries;
- (b) To do anything necessary or helpful to the above objects.
The OCTA does not determine the negotiating positions of the FICs. The FIC Trade Ministers are the primary policy and decision-making body on PACER Plus negotiations. The FIC Trade Ministers could, but need not, request that the OCTA represent the FICs on specific issues in the PACER Plus negotiations.
The Governance Structure of the OCTA
The OCTA is accountable only to the OCTA Governing Board and the Forum Island Country (FIC) Trade Ministers’ Meeting. The FIC Trade Ministers’ Meeting is the ultimate decision making body of the OCTA.
The OCTA Governing Board provides guidance and oversight to the operation of the OCTA, including its work programme and budget for endorsement by the FIC Trade Ministers. The Governing Board reports to the FIC Trade Ministers’ Meeting.
The OCTA is headed by a Chief Trade Adviser. The Chief Trade Adviser is effectively the Chief Executive Officer of the OCTA, responsible for the overall leadership, team performance, management and operation of the OCTA.
The first Chief Trade Adviser of the OCTA is Dr Christopher Noonan. Dr Noonan assumed office on 29 March 2010.
The OCTA Governing Board
The OCTA Governing Board is constituted of the FIC Lead Spokesperson on PACER Plus matters and the two Alternate Lead Spokespersons on PACER Plus matters and representatives from four other FICs. The Lead Spokesperson is also the Chair of the OCTA Governing Board.
The current Chair of the OCTA Governing Board is Hon. Clay Forau, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade for Solomon Islands, and the FIC Lead Spokesperson on PACER Plus matters.
The two Alternate Lead Spokespersons also hold ministerial seats on the Governing Board, these are the ministers responsible for Trade in Kiribati and Tonga). The current Forum Island Country representatives on the Governing Board are Senior Trade Officials from Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Tuvalu and Cook Islands.
The OCTA receives funding support from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand and other donors.
- The Constitution of the OCTA (PDF File) (View online)
- The OCTA Certificate of Registration (PDF File) (View online)
Office of the Chief Trade Adviser
P.O. Box 561
Tel: +678 25003 / 23910
Fax: +678 25003
Email: info [at] octapic [dot] org