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Fiji scores another victory at MSG meet
7:43 pm GMT+12, 31/03/2011, Fiji
Fiji has scored another victory with the full backing of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to participate at all Pacific ACP Trade and Leaders Meeting with regards to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).

And, MSG Leaders went on further to say that ‘it will pursue the change in location and management of the EPA negotiations if Fiji continues to be excluded from Pacific ACP meetings.’

Papua New Guinea had proposed that the management of the Pacific ACP trade negotiations with the EU be transferred to the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser (OCTA) for PACER Plus in Vanuatu, headed by Dr Chris Noonan.

That decision was put on hold and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat given a few months until September to implement its new roadmap for EPA negotiations.

But, MSG Leaders did not mince their words when they resolved to include Fiji in ACP related meetings or face the real possibility of relocating EPA negotiations from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to the OCTA office in Port Vila.

The MSG Leaders Meeting which concluded in Suva today resolved that Fiji officials, ministers and leader participate at all future Pacific ACP meetings and forums, including the next PACP Leaders meeting in September in Papua New Guinea.

“Membership of the Pacific ACP was determined by one’s membership of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) and by virtue of being a signatory to the Georgetown and Cotonou Agreements, MSG Leaders agreed.

After Fiji’s suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum in 2009, the island nation was excluded from Pacific ACP Trade and Minsters meeting organised by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. The only exception was in Apia in February this year because the invitation was made by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

An official told PACNEWS that by virtue of being a signatory to the interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, ‘Fiji needs to be at ACP meetings to access EPA adjustment funds from the European Union.’

The leaders of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and FLNKS of New Caledonia also resolved to establish two MSG ministerial meetings - Trade Ministers and Finance Ministers meeting to legitimise its decisions relating to trade and fiscal interests.

The 18th Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting, chaired by Fiji’s leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama was attended by Papua New Guinea’s foreign affairs minister, Don Polye, Solomon Islands foreign affairs minister, Peter Chanel, Vanuatu Prime Minister, Sato Kilman and FLNKS head of delegation, Charles Washentine.

The next MSG Summit will be hosted by FLNKS in Noumea in 2013.

SOURCE: PACNEWS

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