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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 15, 2001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---The further development of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Free Trade Area was the main topic at this week's Melanesian shipping conference in Honiara.

Manufacturers’ Council of PNG Chairman Wayne Golding chaired the conference. It was attended by representatives of shipping agents, importers, exporters and government officials from Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Vanuatu was not represented but sent a report containing its views.

Among recommendations to be submitted to Melanesian Spearhead Group senior officials:

* The completion of a Melanesian Spearhead Group cargo survey on volume and flow of trade.

* A possible reduction in the cost of shipping and an increase in the frequency of service and other matters to facilitate free trade. Solomon Islands representatives were asked to carry out negotiations with ship owners after the Melanesian Spearhead Group Cargo Movement Survey is completed.

* A survey to be conducted on people interested in trading with Guam and the Federated States of Micronesia after shipping lanes to these countries are opened. The products they wish to trade must also be surveyed.

* The March 2001 sub-committee report on customs is to be circulated to country representatives for distribution to their private sector organizations.

* Development of transshipment and LCL service opportunities by increasing eastward bound cargoes.

* A review of exports to the U.S., using Melanesian Spearhead Group transshipment ports that offer the most cost-effective services.

* The Melanesian Spearhead Group to consider allowing Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to impose a five percent tariff on the basis of their status as least developed countries until such time as they effect an investment/tax reform program as an incentive to further trade.

* Each Melanesian Spearhead Group member to prepare a manufacturers' directory detailing any special conditions imposed on tariffs.

* All Melanesian Spearhead Group countries should immediately cease the issue of tariff exemption permits to individuals and redirect these exemptions to industry, if necessary. These would prevent the compromising of existing and potential future investments.

* All Melanesian Spearhead Group countries must review the integrity of their customs departments with a view to ensuring that tariffs are enforced.

* Papua New Guinea must review business visa requirements and costs.

* Reports compiled by the Bank of Hawai‘i (PNG) Ltd. must be distributed to all members with each member country's economic report, instruments and procedures regarding foreign trade, instruments for business planning and cash flow analysis, and the Pacific Island Trade Flow Study."

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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