Officials prepare for inter Samoa talks

By Joyetter Luamanu ,

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American Samoa Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.

American Samoa Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.

The annual inter Samoa talks is scheduled to be held in Apia this week.

This was confirmed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi during his weekly press conference. 

Asked if the issue of American Samoa setting up an office in Samoa would be among the topics discussed, Tuilaepa said the issue is not as simple as it sounds.

When it comes to dealing with other sovereign nations, Tuilaepa said American Samoa’s authority is limited since it is still under the United States of America.

“There are areas where they (A.S.G.) have the authority to act within while there are issues they need pre-approval from the United States Federal Government in order to proceed,” he said. 

“The American Samoa Government operates under the protection of the United States of America and that is why they have to seek permission before they act on certain issues.

“This is what I see whenever we have these meetings and I am certain that if they had the freedom, the Governor would have already acted on establishing an office in Samoa. 

“That is the difference we have with American Samoa,” said Tuilaepa. 

The American Samoa Government delegation will be led by Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga. Media reports out of American Samoa indicates the A.S.G. delegation met last Friday in Pago Pago to finalise their agenda.

Director of Commerce, Keniseli Lafaele and Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale are part of the delegation. 

In October 2017, the Press Secretary issued a statement saying the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet (M.P.M.C.) has become 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 Samoa’s agenda.

The issues on the table include Trade and Economic Integration, Agriculture, Immigration, Health, Education, Transport, Telecommunication, and Tourism. 

Regarding 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 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,” says the Press Statement. 

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.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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