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August 22, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has identified Trade Agreement as a source of strength for the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) bloc which sets the foundation for the region to grow economically.

Opening the second special summit of the MSG leaders this afternoon in Nadi, Bainimarama said since the Trade Agreement in 2005, anomalies have remained that prohibit the free flow of goods and services between our countries, particularly in relation to negative list provisions.

“The time has come to face this problem head-on and eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers on trade in goods. I urge all of us to work with our relevant agencies and stakeholders to overcome the roadblocks and regulatory challenges and work toward the full implementation of the MSG Trade Agreement,” he said.

He said MSG is a regional group with huge potential.

“Together, we can achieve remarkable gains for the people of our countries. Notwithstanding our individual sovereignties, we must continue to expand economic relationships within the bloc, which will help us focus individually on our respective strengths.”

Bainimarama said the MSG continued to strengthen its position as a significant organization in the region.

“I am informed that strong progress is being made by our officials in preparation for the implementation of the MSG ‘Skills Movement Scheme’ by September of this year.”

He added the review of the ‘Agreement Establishing the MSG’ is proceeding well.

“We have completed national consultations and begun discussions with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in New York regarding possible assistance for the MSG on its DPKO proposal,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

An official from the UN DPKO will visit the Secretariat later this month to work with the MSG Peacekeeping Officer in refining the MSG DPKO concept.

Bainimarama has extended an invitation to the MSG leaders to join him in the Engaging with the Pacific meeting that begins tomorrow.

By Ropate Valemei

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