Government of the Republic of Fiji
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service
Commodore J.V. Bainimarama, CF(Mil),OSt.J,MSD,jssc,pscPrime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Public Service, People’s Charter for Change and Progress, Information, i-Taukei Affairs, Provincial Development, Sugar Industry, Lands and Mineral Resources___________________________________________________________________ADDRESS AT THE SECOND SPECIAL SUMMIT OF THE MSG LEADERS 2012, Frangipani Sheraton Fiji Resort, Wednesday 22nd August 2012, Denarau____________________________________
Fellow MSG Leaders;Honourable Ministers;Excellencies;Senior Officials;Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and welcome to the 2nd Special MSG Leaders Summit for 2012.
I thank you all for your participation at this Meeting, which was requested by the FLNKS and agreed to by the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders in Suva in March of this year.
This Meeting will give us the opportunity to discuss a number of issues. These include the report of the 2nd MSG High Level Mission to New Caledonia, the programme for the 25th Anniversary Celebrations, and the arrangements for the next Summit in 2013.
I am pleased to report that, since the MSG last met, we have made notable progress on our initiatives. We have continued to strengthen our 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.
The review of the “Agreement Establishing the MSG” is proceeding well. The sub-committee on legal and institutional issues is continuing to meet in preparation for the Agreement’s finalization.
The Secretariat is advancing the Peacekeeping and Policing Initiatives. 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. I understand that an Official from the UN DPKO will be visiting the Secretariat later this month to work with the MSG Peacekeeping Officer to refine the MSG DPKO concept.
The MSG has adopted climate-change policies such as the “Framework for Green Growth” and the “Blue Carbon Initiative,” which will help guide us in the responsible conservation of our region’s rich bio-diversity, sustainable growth, and awareness raising.
As I mentioned earlier, I am also pleased that our Officials and Ministers are discussing the important issue of neo-colonialism in Melanesia, through the report submitted by the High Level Mission.
Ladies and gentlemen, while we can see that there has been much progress toward enhancing co-operation among our member nations, there are still issues that we need to address in order to further strengthen our regional integration and reaffirm our special partnership.
One of the sources of strength for the MSG bloc is its Trade Agreement, which sets the foundation for our region to grow economically.
Since the Trade Agreement in 2005, I know that anomalies remain 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.
The 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. This will also help us to expand beyond our region.I would like to extend to you an invitation to join us for the “Engaging with the Pacific Meeting” that starts tomorrow. This meeting will provide further opportunities to discuss these and other important issues, and it would greatly benefit from your presence.
On behalf of the Government and people of Fiji, I would also like to thank you all for your continued support of our country as we work towards establishing true democracy in Fiji. As you know, we are currently in the midst of very exciting electoral and constitutional reforms, which will be discussed in detail at the meeting tomorrow.
I hope that you also take some time to enjoy our beautiful country and enjoy the Fijian hospitality.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji