Ministry of Natural Resources and Commerce Annual Report FY20

As a small island state located in the Northern Pacific, the country is challenged by both external and internal factors impeding economic growth and development. The size of the RMI is small in comparison to the other more developed economies of the Pacific region, with a population of about 60,000 and a GDP growth rate of 3.6% as of the FY2017 data. The major sectors in the RMI include fisheries, agriculture, industry and services. The economy is challenged in terms of distance from other markets, poor transport connectivity, low economies of scale, poor and unreliable infrastructure and poor export base. The year 2020 will be remembered for the very limited international and regional engagements and activities due to the global pandemic caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The impact of the pandemic, in which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a worldwide pandemic on March 11, 2020 is evident in the economic shock, health crisis and social chaos all across the globe. Travel restrictions imposed by government authorities has added pressure to the fiscal capacity of government entities; therefore, to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, all government entities, including the Ministry, were required to formulate its’ own “Preparedness and Response Plan to ensure the continuity of services to the public at large. The Ministry has continued to coordinate with other entities, government and non-government both, in maximizing resource utilization and implementing of key policy directives such as the recently endorsed National Strategic Plan and the Agriculture Sector Plan, as well as the Trade Policy Framework, the National Food Security Policy and the “soon to be endorsed” National Export Strategy and the Forest Action Plan. Export is an area of interest and the endorsement and launching of the comprehensive National Export Strategy for the RMI will take place in early 2021. Included as a positive outcome for 2020 is the surging financial and technical support from the Taiwan Technical Mission towards enhancing the RMI’s agriculture sector. Agriculture stakeholders are thrilled to learn that the Global Agriculture and Food Security Project (GAFSP) will provide 2.5 million dollars to develop and further enhance the agriculture sector.

Due to global pandemic, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) predicts that the project will kick off in latter stages of 2021. This report also serves to provide and update of all other activities the Ministry has executed including ongoing projects starting from October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020. Through the support of JICA’s senior volunteer program, JICA had provided a product marketing expert to the RMI to work with the Division of Trade and Investment in the area of product marketing and packaging. The expert had commenced work with the Ministry in late 2019 but suddenly ended in early 2020 due to the pandemic. The departure of the volunteer is a big loss, not just to the Division and the Ministry, but the local manufacturers.

Inspectors at the Division of Quarantine continues to carry out their essential role in ensuring that injurious pests and diseases are prevented from entering RMI borders. With the Secretariat of the Pacific Region Environment Programme (SPREP) acting as the implementing agency, the Division of Quarantine is currently overseeing a project to strengthen the RMI’s capacity to reduce the impact of invasive alien species. The project is being funded through the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

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