The Melanesian Spearhead Group has become a strong and cohesive regional bloc and is now becoming a vibrant economic grouping with great potential.
So said AG, acting PM and Industry and Trade minister Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum at the inaugural MSG Trade Ministers Meeting in Nadi earlier today.
Khaiyum said the leaders share a bold vision for a truly integrated Pacific, beginning with a truly integrated MSG. He said the meeting comes at the end of a very eventful period for the region as Fiji hosted the MSG Trade Officials, the meeting of eminent persons of the G77 and the Pacific ACP Trade Officials and Trade Ministers for a series of meetings over the past two weeks.
“Together, we represent 98.8% of the region’s total landmass, 30.3% of the region’s exclusive economic zones, and 87% of the region’s population. We have advanced skills and knowledge as well as a strong manufacturing base. It is up to us to make sure we make the most of these resources,” he said.
He further said: “Historically, intra – MSG trade has been low. However, we have seen remarkable signs of progress over the last few years. It has been noted that between the period 2005-2009, intra – MSG trade has increased substantially – with exports amongst the MSG rising by more than 300%.”
He added that Fiji’s total trade with the Pacific Islands countries has increased from less than 1% in 2000 to 4.5% in 2010 and more than 40% of this trade is now with the MSG countries.
PNG’s Trade Minister Richard Maro, Vanuatu’s Trade Minister Mercellino Pipite and Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Fiji John Patterson Oti are also present in this meet.