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MSG Ministers Meet To Discuss Way Forward

Fiji has urged the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Ministers on the need to re-look at trade policy measures underway now and what can be done to improve them in future.

Our Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Koya, made these comments at the MSG Trade Ministers Meeting which got underway in Papua New Guinea yesterday. Mr Koya stressed the meeting was very important to give new impetus to our trade and economic relations.

"We need to re-look at what has been done and how we can ensure that in the future we will be even better," he said.

Mr Koya, referring to reports from the Trade and Economic Officials Meetings held previously, said the progress made needs to be assessed.

"We need to ask ourselves, are the proposals put forward by the Technical Working Groups achieving the vision of our Leaders?" he said. "Will it make the Melanesian Spearhead Group region a thriving, coherent and strong region that will be a powerhouse in the Pacific.

"Will provide leverage in future trade negotiations such as PACER Plus and the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement?"

Going forward

Mr Koya said whilst it was important to keep updating and modernising the MSG Agreement, but it was also important to ensure the review will take us forward.

"We need to ensure that progress made over the past number of years is not overturned," he said.

"We cannot afford to backtrack on commitments already made in the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement 2. Rather, need to better those commitments."

"We should be proud that the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement is the only trade agreement that is fully operational in the Pacific Region.

"This has given the Melanesian Spearhead Group Sub-region an investor friendly and business focused image.

"The Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement therefore needs to not only foster free trade, as was intended, but is also seen to be doing so.

"This is vital in terms of creating a stable and a conducive environment for our private sector.

"Thus, a lot depends on us the implementers of the Agreement, to carry out our roles diligently and as mandated by the Agreement.

"We should, therefore, swiftly address any disguised barriers to trade, which compromises the spirit or the provisions of the Agreement."

(Source: Fiji Sun)