PNG, VANUATU EYE-TO-EYE ON REGIONAL ISSUES

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Jan. 31, 2000 – The National)---Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu have arrived at an understanding on a range of bilateral and regional trade issues.

The understanding was reached following a two-day visit to PNG by Vanuatu Trade and Business Development Minister James Bule, during which he held official talks with his PNG counterpart Michael Nali.

Mr. Nali said in a statement released in Port Moresby yesterday that he and Mr. Bule had reached agreement on some key bilateral and regional issues of concern to our two countries, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and the region through the South Pacific Forum and the Asia Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Secretariat in Brussels.

He said that, among other things, the two countries arrived at an understanding on the following:

*PNG and Vanuatu as signatories of the MSG Trade Agreement are committed to the MSG Free Trade Agreement as a nucleus for achieving trade liberalization in the region. Hence, our preferred option would be to proceed along the MSG Free Trade Agreement concept for all trade and investment matters;

*That a meeting of officials be held next month to take stock of all follow-up work undertaken by MSG countries so far;

*The South Pacific Forum Free Trade Area promoted by the Forum Secretariat must adopt the principle of the MSG Trade Agreement;

*All MSG countries are urged to secure their respective Cabinet's approval of the approved 185 products list for trading. PNG's product list is to be submitted to Cabinet this month;

* Continue to promote bilateral cooperation, especially in trade and investment through the export of products such as beef (from Vanuatu) and biscuits (from PNG) and exchange programs through their respective investment promotion authorities and PNG's Small Business Development Corp; and

*To recommend to their respective Cabinets for Fijian Surenda Sharma, the present director of the Centre for the Development of Industry (CDI) in Brussels, Belgium to be the South Pacific ACP countries' choice for the position of Deputy Secretary General of the ACP Secretariat in Brussels.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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