The inaugural Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG) Senior Officials “Tok Stori” ended successfully last week with a number of outcomes agreed upon by officials attending the dialogue.

Senior Foreign Secretary officials from Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu attended the dialogue and commended the Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade for hosting the inaugural informal Meeting in Honiara.

While no clear agenda was set prior to the “Tok Stori”, a number of observations were made at the conclusion of the informal meeting which covered areas of governance, challenges facing MSG, development priorities and the way forward.

The Senior officials used the occasion to commend MSG Director General, Leornard Louma for his work in strengthening the operations and capacity needs of the MSG Secretariat with consideration to reviewing the Agreement establishing the MSG.

There was also acknowledgement for the need to identify potential agricultural high-value crops/products that can be explored for the MSG Trade Agreement a proposal to establish an MSG Trade Office to manage the Melanesian Trade Agreement, Investment, and labour mobility in the region.

The MSG Senior Officials also discuss the idea to establish a dialogue process for MSG’s engagement with external partners to elevate MSG to fit for purpose, relevant and influential in the region within the auspices and principles of International Law.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Collin Beck stressed that as an organization, MSG has come a long way since its establishment and the dialogue is among initiatives aimed at reviewing the MSG agreement, with a hindsight to looking at its relevance to today’s realities.

Mr Beck said MSG must have a stronger voice internationally and regionally, and have a more pronounced position in terms of looking at the regional architecture currently being reviewed within the Pacific.

On the way forward, the MSG Senior Officials have agreed for a similar Tok Stori/Kibung/Talanoa to be convened before the next MSG Senior Officials meeting.


Source: Press Release, MFAET