Tough progress on MSG trade in services talks - Solomon Star News

Tough progress on MSG trade in services talks

28 August 2015

NADI, (MSG SECRETARIAT) - Ground breaking negotiations on Trade in Services, a new chapter to be included in the soon to be upgraded MSG Trade Agreement, has achieved mixed progress in Nadi, Fiji.

The MSG Trade Agreement, which has been in operation for over 20 years, has been primarily focused on trade in goods but in the revised agreement known as MSGTA 3, it will include Trade in Services, and new chapters such as Labour Mobility, Investment, and Telecommunications. 

While progress has been made on a number of chapters, officials have been held up on some key issues - working out the implementation realities, ensuring that the interpretations are clear, and seeking more time to consult with other government agencies and governments. 

“This is to be expected however as members wish to be clear about the implications of their services liberalization given the lessons from other trade negotiations,” said MSG Secretariat Director General Peter Forau.

Time is of the essence however as MSG Leaders have directed that a draft legal text of the trade agreement must be ready by November 2015.

Officials from MSG country agencies such as Trade, Customs, Biosecurity, Economic Planning, and State Law have been engaged in complex and painstaking discussions and thorough examination of the draft legal text of the agreement. 

The meetings are being supported and funded by MSG members and the European Union under the Pacific Integration Technical Assistance Project (PITAP).

The outcomes from the technical working group negotiations that ended Wednesday will be tabled before the Trade and Economic Officials Meeting on Friday, who will in turn table its recommendations to the MSG Trade Ministers Meeting next Monday 31st August. 

Following the completion of the technical working group discussions on goods and services, the heads of investment promotion agencies and Industries of MSG countries are meeting Thursday to focus on private sector policy issues. 

The meeting will address the investment and private sector development (PSD) priorities of the MSG Secretariat in sync with the goals of the Pacific Integration Trade Assistance Project.