Samoa signs trade agreement with U.K.

The Samoa Government has signed an agreement with the United Kingdom as part of an interim economic partnership following the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.

The UK ceased to be part of the EU at the end of 31 January 2020 with the transition period ending 31 December 2020, thereby resulting in the kingdom also exiting the European Union’s political institutions.

Failure by Samoa to sign the memorandum of understanding with the United Kingdom on 22 December 2020, would have resulted in the country not having a stand-alone agreement outside of the EU–Pacific States interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) with the UK.

The iEPA between the EU and Pacific states (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands) remains valid, but this time without the United Kingdom.

Details of the agreement between Samoa and the UK were published 30 December 2020 by the United Kingdom’s Department of International Trade uploaded on to the latter’s website.

“Recognising that the United Kingdom, the Republic of Fiji and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea signed on 14 March 2019 in London an Interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the one part, and the Pacific States, of the other part (“the UK-Pacific States IEPA”) to continue the effects, as between them, of the Interim Partnership Agreement between the European Community, of the one part, and the Pacific States, of the other part (“EU-Pacific States IEPA”),” reads the agreement.

According to the agreement, Samoa had requested that it be part of the United Kingdom–Pacific States iEPA, but the process that it has to undertake to complete the accession remains incomplete.

“Recognising that the Independent State of Samoa has presented its request to accede to the UK-Pacific States IEPA but the necessary procedures required for that accession and for the UK-Pacific States IEPA to enter into effect with respect to the Independent State of Samoa at the end of the transition period will not have been completed.”

Samoa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Chief Executive Officer, Peseta Noumea Simi, signed the memorandum on behalf of the Samoa Government in Apia on 22 December 2020.

Some of the benefits of the iEPA with the EU include 100 per cent duty-free and quota-free access for imports entering the EU from States that are signatories of the Pacific iEPA. And as part of the agreement, Papua New Guinea as well as Fiji, Samoa and the Solomon Islands are to open their markets to imports from the EU with a 15-year transition period.

It is not known if the United Kingdom’s version of the iEPA, which Samoa has requested it becomes a part of through the memorandum it signed in December, will have similar benefits for the signatory Pacific nations.

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