TOKELAU SEEKS TRADE LINK WITH AMERICAN SAMOA

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By La Poasa

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Sept. 15) - The cargo ship MV Sili may soon be used to carry passengers and goods between Tokelau and American Samoa following meetings between government officials of the two Pacific territories last week.

[PIR editor’s note: Tokelau, located north of the Samoas, is a territory of New Zealand while American Samoa is a territory of the United States.]

House Rep. Alex Jennings of Swains Island said he is hoping a draft of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) from Tokelau officials will be on the Governor's desk soon.

A delegation from Tokelau, led by its head of government, Pio Tuia, were on Tutuila last week to meet with Gov. Togiola Tulafono and members of the Fono to discuss trade opportunities between the three small atolls of Tokelau, and American Samoa.

Jennings visited Tokelau at the end of last month following an invitation from Tokelau's head of government when Tuia was on island for April's Flag Day. While there, he discussed trade opportunities with officials of Tokelau, who saw great opportunities for using the MV Sili. Tokelau, which consists of Fakaofo, Atafua and Nukunonu, is a self-administering territory of New Zealand.

Jennings said with the new political atmosphere and New Zealand allowing Tokelau to negotiate with other islands for trade and other opportunities, this was a great way to work on providing services not only for Tokelau but for Swains Island as well.

[PIR editor’s note: Swains Island, an atoll located 214 miles north of Tutuila, American Samoa, is geographically part of Tokelau but belongs to American Samoa.]

Tuia told the House last week that some of the opportunities include having the MV Sili make regular trips to Tokelau after visiting Swains Island. They also want to buy American made goods that they're not able to acquire from New Zealand or Samoa. The MV Sili could also ship to Tokelau fuel and other goods as well as building materials to help with their recovery efforts following Cyclone Olaf. Tuia said the Sili has the capability to bring in big shipments and machines that can't be transported currently using vessels from Samoa.

Another topic that was discussed during the meeting with the Governor is the availability of medical services here for Tokelau residents who have to travel to Samoa or go to New Zealand to get services such as a CT scan. He said their discussions with the Governor revealed numerous opportunities between Tokelau and American Samoa.

Jennings told Samoa News that the Tokelauns loved the MV Sili and they see a lot of opportunities between the two islands. He said the MV Sili makes trips to Swains Island every quarter and since it sits there for two days until it returns to Pago Pago, it makes a lot of sense to use that time to travel to Tokelau.

He said American Samoa can serve as a hub for small little atolls and this will not only improve services and opportunities for the islands involved, but it will also bring new revenue to the territory.

September 16, 2005

The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/

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