MELANESIAN TRADE OFFICIALS GATHER IN VANUATU AHEAD OF MSG SUMMIT

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (June 21, 1999 - PACNEWS)---The Eighth Meeting of Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Trade Officials now is underway in the Vanuatu capital, Port Vila.

The meeting is part of normal preparations for the MSG Summit, a gathering of Melanesian leaders which will be hosted by the Vanuatu government next week.

This week's sessions bring together trade officials from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, as well as an observer group from the pro-independence FLNKS in New Caledonia.

In officially declaring the meeting open, the Director General of the Ministry of Trade, George Maniuri, spoke about existing trade links among the MSG member states.

Maniuri reviewed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that was agreed upon in principle at the recent Forum Economic Ministers' Meeting in Fiji.

He called on the delegates to share their expertise on the issue, and consider how best to strengthen trade arrangements within the Pacific Islands region.

A meeting of Pacific nation foreign ministers also will be held in Port Vila later this week, just prior to the main MSG heads of government summit.

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