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Posted on: May 24, 2018


The Regional Validation Workshop held under the Technical Assistance Programme to provide “Capacity Building support to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat and to enhance the efficiency of the Region’s Trade Facilitation Services” was convened on Thursday March 15, 2018 at the Melanesian Hotel, Port Vila, Vanuatu. 

This Technical Assistance intervention which has as its main beneficiary, the MSG Secretariat with MSG Members namely Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, as its secondary beneficiaries, commenced in August 2017. The primary objective of this Programme is to support the beneficial integration of the four MSG States into the world economy and thereby contribute to sustainable economic development and poverty reduction.

The principal objectives of the Validation Workshop were to review and validate reports on the enhancement of trade facilitation services in the MSG Region and furthermore to improve the accessibility of trade, business and market information that can positively impact regional private sector development and investment in the MSG Region.

Enhancing Trade Facilitation Services in the MSG Region

The Workshop focused on improving air connectivity, by pinpointing the key challenges affecting the regional air services industry and identifying practical solutions that can be implemented to surmount these hurdles. In addition, the modalities to facilitate the establishment of an MSG Shipping Commission were also discussed, in an effort to better monitor, regulate and facilitate enhanced shipping services across the MSG Region.

Improving Accessibility of Trade, Business and Market Information in the MSG Region

The Workshop also facilitated the launch of the Online MSG Business Directory; an online facility and resource for business contacts and market information for individuals, firms and organisations on how to do business in the MSG Region. The launch of this online platform was complemented by a discussion on sourcing relevant and timely trade and business information from reputable regional and international sources.

Participants of the Workshop included representatives from the Ministries of Trade for Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as well as delegates from the aviation and maritime industries; including regulatory authorities, commercial airlines and shipping companies. In addition, representatives from other private sector entities from across the MSG Region and Business Support Organisations (BSOs) were also in attendance. The Workshop also attracted participation from regional partners including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO), Pacific Community (SPC) and Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO).

Outcomes of the Regional Validation Workshop

The Regional Validation Workshop was hailed as being timely, relevant and informative. The importance of and the need for sustainability were underscored and key recommendations were proffered in this respect, highlighting the importance of leveraging regional institutional partnerships and greater national stakeholder involvement. In addition, the value to be derived in creating synergies in pursuit of cost efficiencies and effectiveness was also agreed on.

Commitment was received by the MSG Secretariat to channel the outputs of this  Workshop, particularly in respect of enhancing trade facilitation services, to its Aviation and Tourism Dialogue and then to Senior Officials, Ministers and ultimately to the MSG Leaders in an effort to inform the policy decision-making process.

In building on the outputs of the Workshop and broadening accessibility to trade and related information, it was recommended that the MSG Secretariat, in partnership with PIPSO, should design and undertake an initiative that would attract and benefit a wider cross section of the regional private sector membership. It was proposed that this can best be facilitated through the leveraging of ICT and hosting of an online learning series.

The MSG Secretariat was charged with the responsibility of building on the momentum of the  Workshop in advancing the regional economic integration efforts of its members.

Programme funded by European Union at the request of ACP Group - Implemented by AESA CONSORTIUM