NADI, (FIJI TV) – Fiji is the largest trading partner in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
This was revealed at a Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade meeting that is currently underway in Nadi.
Programme Manager Trade and Investment at the MSG Secretariat, John Licht says trade between the M-S-G countries have increased significantly and Fiji has stamped its mark as a major trading partner with member countries.
“After Fiji, you have Solomon Islands, followed by Vanuatu and then Papua New Guinea. PNG is also a member to APEC and its focus is more towards Asia and Europe because of the Economic Partnership Agreement,” Licht said.
The Group is also embarking on a shipping study that will look at the issues related to shipment of goods between the member countries.
“We are continuing to see a lot of exports between MSG countries, we are undertaking a study now to try to help member countries in their export products, and that study hopefully will reveal a lot more of the potential the member countries have.”
The study should be completed next year.
Meanwhile, the Melanesian Spearhead Group is currently revising the legal texts of the draft M-S-G Trade Agreement in Nadi.
The new trade agreement will now be more comprehensive and will include Trade in Services, and chapters such as Labour Mobility, Investment and Telecommunications.
The Group said, the new agreement should go beyond the existing one hence the review is timely.
“It will be more appealing to our MSG investors. it will be more appealing to the trade exporters and importers in the region, wholesalers, it will also be more appealing to aviation industry because you will have more tourists moving in between member countries and it should be more appealing to the other sectors as far as movement of people is concerned, said Licht.
The Group is also working to further refine the rules of origin for trade of goods that will be more flexible to all the member countries.
“Where we are taking it now is we want to have another formula that can measure and qualify our products. Rules of Origin basically is determination of whether our product qualifies for duty free preference when it enters the party of another member to the MSG Trade Agreement.”
Plans are also to include Trade of Services into the new trade agreement which is not reflected in the current agreements.
“For example Pacer Plus, Economic Partnership Agreement, the WTO, these are the trade agreements, even PICTA, we want our MSG Trade Agreement to have a Rules of Origin that is not too cumbersome at the same time it’s not killing our industry in the least developing countries in MSG,” Licht said.
Throughout the week, these various stakeholders from MSG members’ countries will try to find a solution that will ensure a smooth trade flow between them.