Leaders stay mum on meeting
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and American Samoa Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga met on the side of the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting yesterday. But both leaders have declined to comment on the issues they talked about, according to a media statement issued by the government last night.
The media statement says that out of respect for his American Samoa counterpart, Prime Minister Tuilaepa has declined to reveal details of their closed-door meeting.
He only revealed that they have agreed to proceed with the 2 Samoa talks in Apia in early October.
“After the talks in Apia, all will be revealed,” he said.
Among the long outstanding issues expected to be addressed then 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.
And of course, the taro ban imposed by the territory on taro exports although Samoa officials have furnished the clearance from lab tests in Germany clearing local taro from any threatening disease.
Then there is the Tui-Samoa fiber optic cable that Prime Minister Tuilaepa is hoping for the territorial government to come to the negotiating table 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.
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.