The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat in partnership with the Oceania Customs Organization (OCO) convened a workshop on the MSG Sub-Regional Integration & World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement Implementation at the MSG Secretariat in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
Speaking during the official opening of the five-day workshop, the Deputy Director General Peter Eafeare said that the focus of this workshop is to raise awareness on the various trade agreements and also develop strategies to support the implementation of trade facilitation initiatives in the MSG region.
The current Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Trade Agreement, being one of the pioneer regional integration initiative in the Pacific, currently facilitates free movement of goods with Melanesia. In 2017, the MSG Leaders endorsed the Melanesian Free Trade Agreement (MFTA) with its scope extending beyond trade in goods to include new areas of trade in services, labour mobility and cross border investments. He added that as the most progressive trade agreement, the MFTA clearly reflects the MSG Leaders commitment to achieve regional integration in Melanesia.
Mr. Eafeare also reaffirmed the pivotal role that customs play in facilitating trade. He is confident that the workshop will provide the opportunity to improving knowledge and understanding of national policies and regulations regarding the administration and enforcement of the MSG Trade Agreement, the transitional arrangements towards the ratification of the new MFTA and other regional trade agreements and trade facilitation initiatives.
He congratulated participating customs officials from the MSG member countries and emphasized the recognition and the importance of ensuring that MSG member country’s facilitation initiatives align with the Leaders decisions towards sub-regional initiative to enhance the competency of customs administrations on trade facilitation issues.
MSG member countries are WTO members and parties to the Melanesian Group Trade Agreement (MSGTA) concluded in 2005 and revised in 2017 to promote intra MSG trade and strengthen economic cooperation amongst MSG Members.
Mr Eafeare also extended his gratitude to other regional partners, namely Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Pacific Community (SPC) and UNCTAD ASYCUDA for supporting the workshop.
The collaborative efforts and partnership of the regional partners will enable the MSG to achieve its goal of regional integration within MSG region.
The workshop was conducted from 29 October to 2 November 2018, co-funded by the OCO Secretariat in collaboration with the MSG Secretariat.