MELANESIAN COUNTRIES TO REVISE TRADE AGREEMENT

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Aug. 1) - A revised Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Trade Agreement is expected to be signed by MSG Leaders in Samoa this week ahead of the start of the Pacific Islands Forum.

MSG countries include Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu; the FLNKS political party from New Caledonia will be taking part as an observer.

Opening a two-day seminar for senior trade officials from MSG, Fiji’s Foreign Affairs and External Trade Minister, Kaliopate Tavola, said negotiations on the revised trade agreement had taken three years to come to fruition.

One area that has reportedly been difficult to finalize is the negative list of products. The list contains names of products or goods that are protected and that MSG countries must still pay duty for.

Fiji is the only MSG member country that has nothing on the negative list.

Other members are reportedly trying to shorten their list of items.

Mr Tavola said the expansion of the MSG trade agreement would create a strong economic block, which would benefit its membership and further regional integration.

August 2, 2004

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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