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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 28, 2002 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Calls have been made for a new "commercially focused central trade body" within the Pacific Islands to focus on developing import and export opportunities for small to medium enterprises.

Participants at the third Melanesian Spearhead Group International Shipping Conference made the recommendation.

They said the new body should provide various types of support and information that would facilitate trade within the islands.

This, they said, would help provide a wider choice of ports of call and create more efficient freight rates.

Participants at the conference in Auckland recommended that funding to set up the agency be obtained from donor agencies, with the help of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

They also said that the shipping lines operating within the MSG trade lanes should examine and consider the benefits to be derived from the possible consolidation of their full container services.

The group discussed inefficiencies in services with regard to ports of call and the transport of containers.

They said there should be further rationalization through mutual dialogue in order to reduce costs and improve the trade opportunities of importers and exporters in the region.

Melanesian Spearhead Group governments should be encouraged to allow international shipping companies to uplift cargo between domestic ports, delegates said.

Port authorities should also be asked to review their working hours to allow for a seven-day working week, it was suggested.

It also was recommended that international vessels operating within a country should be exempt from fuel duty and or excise levies on fuel consumed within territorial waters.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group links Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia's Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS).

Representatives from other countries and territories in the region also participated in the shipping conference.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 



NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (May 28, 2002 - Radio Djiido/PINA Nius Online)---The Melanesian Spearhead Group is to meet with newly independent East Timor about its interest in joining the group.

The group's chairperson, Roch Wamytan, of New Caledonia, told Radio Djiido that he will soon travel to East Timor to discuss its possible membership.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group links Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia's Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS).

Mr. Wamytan congratulated East Timor on its independence after centuries of Portuguese and then Indonesian rule.

During discussions with Papua New Guinea special envoy Sir John Kaputin the East Timorese told him of their interest in Melanesian Spearhead Group and Pacific Islands Forum memberships.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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