The Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade has stressed more needs to be done in the area of fisheries management and conservation by the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) countries.
Shaheen Ali, who is also the chair of the meeting, made these comments yesterday whilst opening the three-day MSG Trade and Economic Official Meeting at the Holiday Inn Suva.
“This needs to be done to protect this important sector for future generations,” he said.
“Fiji and other MSG countries are more vested than others in Long-line and albacore fisheries.
“Therefore, the role of the MSG Fisheries Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC) needs to be focused.
“The MSG Fisheries Technical Advisory Committee should actively drive fisheries management and conservation measures, like the Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) has done with purse-seining fisheries.”
Mr Ali further suggested: “As a sub-region, it is high time we consider increasing our capacity to implement and harmonise trade, quality, health and safety standards within the MSG.
“This will not only encourage trade, but also protect our consumers, and lift the image and international standings of MSG produced goods and services.”
Important weeks ahead
Yesterday marked the beginning of a very important two weeks for our region as far as trade is concerned.
Mr Ali highlighted that apart from hosting the MSG Trade and Economic Officials Meeting, Fiji will also host the inaugural MSG Trade Ministers Meeting on May 20.
“In between, Fiji will also play host to the Pacific ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) Trade Officials and Trade Ministers meetings in Nadi,” he said.
“It s no exaggeration to say that this period, one-way or another, will pave the way forward for both, trade amongst ourselves (region) and trade with important partners such as the European Union (EU).
“It is up to all of us, to support our Ministers, Leaders and Governments, achieve the best possible outcomes for our MSG sub-region.”
Mr Ali indicated significant growth was projected in intra-MSG trade this year and next year, based on the statistics and the positive developments.
“Fiji’s total trade with the Pacific Islands countries has increased from less than one per cent in 2000 to 4.5 per cent in 2010,” he said.
“Approximately 45 per cent of this trade is now with the MSG countries.
“But it’s not these numbers alone that are important, it is what they represent.
“The steady growth in trade is a result of our Leaders’ bold vision of a truly integrated Pacific, beginning with a truly integrated MSG.
“The MSG countries have already managed to achieve considerable success in this direction, beginning with the implementation of the MSG Trade Agreement.”
MSG Trade Agreement
Mr Ali said the MSG Trade Agreement currently facilitates free movement of goods.
“But we need to look at new areas, such as, facilitating trade in services and investments and giving equal preferences to Melanesian firms in our national Government procurement processes,” he said.
It is envisaged that at the end of the deliberations tomorrow, there will be a clearer way forward for the future of the MSG.
(Source: Fiji Sun)