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PORT MORESBY, PNG (The National, Aug. 19) – The Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) of the MSG comprising heads and senior officials of Foreign Affairs ministries and departments went into a marathon session on Wednesday at about 1am on Thursday.

While details of the deliberations were not made available a statement was released at 1am outlining issues deliberated upon on Tuesday, Wednesday and early Thursday morning.

Critical issues relating to politics, security, trade, economy, environment and social and culture were discussed and a report presented to the chairman of the Foreign Ministers of MSG states, Sir Rabbie Namaliu.

Sir Rabbie and his MSG colleagues went through the report yesterday before submitting it to their respective prime ministers who meet today.

In the areas of trade, economic and environmental issues, SOM went through the MSG Trade Agreement (Negative Listing), Trade Liberalization and Free Trade Issues, Trade and Implementation Issues, PNG/Fiji Ox and Palm, Regional/Multilateral Trade Issues, Members of MSG in World Trade Organization (WTO).

Updates of MSG negotiation and positions in international donor and aid agencies such as the European Union -Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-EPA) - were also looked at.

The meeting endorsed the report provided by the Chairman of the Trade and Economic Officials Meeting (TEOM), Mr Alois Taberang.

PNG introduced an agenda to include FLNKS-New Caledonia in the MSG Trade Agreement pursuant to a decision of the 15th MSG Leaders Summit in Gizo, Solomon Islands in 2003.

FLNKS expressed their wish for a MSG mission to New Caledonia to explain MSG Trade Agreement and the MSG Interim Secretariat was tasked to co-ordinate and advise members accordingly.

A SOM outcome statement said it could not eventuate until all member countries have completed their domestic processes to implement the revised MSG Trade Agreement.

Regarding the MSG-European Economic Partnership Agreement (EU EPA) - the SOM set October this year for the next negotiation after being briefed on the latest negotiation process.

The meeting tasked PNG to develop a paper on the issue of carbon trading for a working group to report on their discussions at the next TEOM in the Solomon Islands next year.

When the issue of Trade and Environment resurfaced at the meeting, Vanuatu presented a paper raising the need to promote trade and environment initiatives with a view to sustainable development and promoting researches of traditional knowledge in trade and environment.

According to the statement, it was agreed that the concept paper be endorsed and taken back to the respective governments for relevant environment authorities to comment on and report back to the next SOM.

Vanuatu and PNG were asked to carry out further work on MSG Mineral Resources Technical Assistance before reporting back to the SOM.

The two countries formed a sub-committee to report the Progress at the 15th MSG Summit in Gizo, Solomon Islands in 2003.

Regarding the air services agreement, PNG presented a brief on current bilateral air services arrangements, and proposed a multilateral Air Services Agreement between MSG Countries.

Members agreed that PNG provides a paper on the issue to be referred to relevant national authorities including their respective national airlines for discussion and would be further deliberated at the next SOM.

Senior Officials representing their countries at the SOM were, Litia Mawi (Fiji), Charles Wea (FLNKS), Tarcy Eri (PNG), Barnabas Anga (Solomon Islands) and Ronald Sandy (Vanuatu) and the MSG Interim Secretariat based in Vanuatu.

Friday, August 19, 2005

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