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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 31) – Pacific Islands Forum country members may in the future trade with countries of Melanesia under a new trade agreement signed last week.

The revised Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) trade agreement was signed by the prime ministers of Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu at the end of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Madang last week.

MSG chairman and Prime Minister of PNG Sir Michael Somare says the signing is an achievement for all MSG countries.

"The agreement provides for the extension of membership to include other forum members, and if this does happen, this will be beneficial to the sub-region and the South Pacific region as a whole," he said. "Unlike the other trade agreements with the region, there is real trade between member countries under this agreement. The revised agreement would bring about increased trade volume and cooperation in commercial activities between member countries and the region as a whole."

He said from its humble beginning, the trade agreement has become one of the vibrant trade arrangements in the region.

"Since its inception in 1993, the agreement has grown from strength to strength, from merely three products to over 250 products at the moment. It is important to note, and perhaps what is more impressive, is that the international community has accepted that the trade agreement is compatible with WTO standards," he said.

November 1, 2005

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