(M.P.M.C. Press Secretary) - Samoa will host the 2017 Inter-island Samoa talks in Apia with American Samoa in early October.
Originally the talk was planned for early next month but American Samoa has communicated to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi requesting to postpone the meeting to October to allow the territorial government to finalize issues from their end to be tabled in the upcoming meeting.
And as one of the three central government agencies, the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, (M.P.M.C.) is tasked as the implementing agency to organize the event. In the last few months a series of meetings with government stakeholders have since taken place to prepare the agenda for the upcoming event with our neighboring U.S. territory.
Among the long outstanding issues that is expected to be addressed in the two day brainstorming session includes Trade and Economic Integration, Agriculture, Immigration, Health, Education, Transport, Telecommunication, and Tourism.
In terms of exports, the Agricultural Sector remains optimistic that their American Samoa counterparts will assist with a request from Apia to the United States Department of Agriculture to certify the two mobile abattoirs and the soon to be built permanent and Central Abattoir that will open up the lucrative meat export markets to the United States via American Samoa.
Then there is the Tui-Samoa fiber optic cable that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi is hoping for the territorial government to come to the negotiating cable and become part of the Tui-Samoa family which now includes neighboring Pacific Island countries. The target is for improvement on telecommunication connectivity at affordable rates for residents of the 2-Samoas.
Immigration issues which include the current reciprocal permit regime between the two countries is another issue expected to be revisited during the talks in bids to minimize the red tape in processing entry permits.
And of course, the long awaited trade agreement that would be mutually beneficial to Samoa and American Samoa.
The talks is geared at providing focus areas that includes the identification of improvements to the immigration, customs, taxes, business creation, and foreign investment rules of the countries that would benefit economic integration.
As a lead up to the talks, Prime Minister Tuilaepa reiterated that under these circumstances, “it is imperative for the two Samoas to try as much as we can to cooperate in every area available.”
“We are already doing this successfully in the number of sectors, and with mixed success in the various other facets of our engagement.
“However we obviously need to do more and we must continue to collaborate and cooperate in working towards goals that would mutually benefit our islands.”