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MSG to pursue ratification of Melanesian Free Trade Agreement

Fiji Times | 21 January 2021

MSG to pursue ratification of Melanesian Free Trade Agreement

by Aarush Ahalawat

PORT VILA, VANUATU (20 January 2021): The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat had a successful online meeting yesterday with Fiji’s Roving Ambassador and High Commissioner, Amena Yauvoli on the Melanesian Free Trade Agreement (MFTA).

MSG Secretariat Programme Manager, Trade & Economic Development (TED) Mrs Sovaia Marawa, provided a comprehensive update on the efforts made towards the ratification of the MFTA.

The Melanesian Free Trade Agreement (MFTA) is a comprehensive and progressive free trade agreement that aims to achieve regional integration of economies in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

Once ratified by all MSG Members, the MFTA will replace the 2005 MSG Trade Agreement.

Mrs Marawa noted that Members had yet to ratify the Agreement due to a few internal and outstanding issues that are currently being taken care of.

As Roving Ambassador responsible for the MSG region, Mr Yauvoli expressed his appreciation for the update adding that in pursuing the realisation of the MFTA, Fiji will also have bilateral meetings with Members to ensure that there is no further delay.

“Fiji is pursuing this vigorously because we see value in the MFTA in enhancing regional economic integration to enable our Member countries to export their goods and services in a competitive environment and in particular with COVID-19 affecting us,” he said.

He added that there is a lot of potential available in terms of market access for labour mobility and investments once the MFTA is ratified and becomes operational.

MSG Members are expected to confirm their respective positions on the matter and the issue will be finalised at the next Trade & Economic Officials Meeting (TEOMM) scheduled for early March.

Ambassador Yauvoli assured Fiji’s support for the MSG Secretariat saying they want to ensure continued engagement through a two-prong approach.

“We continue to support the work that you do and also want to ensure that the MSG remains relevant to the work that Fiji wishes to pursue with the MSG Secretariat including with our Members,” he said.

MSG Secretariat Acting Director General, Mr George Hoa’au expressed his gratitude to Ambassador Yauvoli for the continued prioritisation of support for the work of the MSG.

He said he was pleased with the bilateral approach taken by the Ambassador and added that the same model will be used by the MSG Secretariat to convene bilateral meetings with its other Members on priority issues.

He added that while COVID-19 exposes us as a team and as individuals, it is equally important to build on the opportunity to lead in our respective priority areas.

 source: Fiji Times