PNG Agrees To Melanesian Spearhead Free Trade Agreement

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Duties reduced ‘dramatically’ for about 50 products

By Sean Dorney

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 15, 2012) – The Melanesian Spearhead Group's (MSG) Free Trade Agreement is ready to be implemented between at least three of its four members.

It follows a recent breakthrough from Papua New Guinea, which agreed to dramatically scrap duties on almost all of its protected goods.

Merewalesi Falemaka, MSG's director of trade and investment, says with the changes the free trade agreement could be in full effect from next year.

"There were about 50 products that were on that list, so now they have actually gone duty free on all those products," she said, adding that there are three exceptions: mackerel, salt and sugar.

The move came almost seven years after the trade deal between Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and PNG was finalized.

Fiji had been applying duty free status to all MSG products since 2009.

Vanuatu started in 2010 and is expected to eliminate all tariffs by next year, while Solomon Islands began in 2011.

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