The 7th Ministers’ Meeting of the Micronesian Trade and Economic Community (MTEC) discussed trade and investment facilitation and harmonization of labor and immigration legislations between the FSM, RMI, and Palau.
Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), July 13, 2015
The 7th Trade Ministers’ Meeting was held on 13 July, 2015 at the PSC Conference Centre in Majuro, RMI. The Meeting was attended by the Honorable Marion Henry, Secretary, Development of Resources and Development (Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)), the Honorable Michael Konelios, Minister of Resources and Development, RMI, and the Honorable F.Umiich Sengebau, Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, Republic of Palau (Palau). The objective of the meeting was to discuss the recent developments in intra-regional trade and investment in the Micronesian sub-region, the MTEC trade and investment facilitation roadmap, harmonization of labour and immigration laws between MTEC members, ongoing negotiations involving MTEC Member States, and finally the conduct of the MTEC Interim Secretariat’s affairs.
In this opening statement, the Honorable Michael Konelios, Minister of Resources and Development, RMI, underscored the importance of the 7th MTEC Ministers’ Meeting in moving forward the broader issues of interest to MTEC Member States. He informed the Meeting that RMI ratified the MTEC Treaty in February 2015, thus becoming the first country to complete the ratification process and highlighted two areas of “early harvest” which should be given priority by the Member States: harmonization of labor and immigration laws to ease the movement of people and workers within the sub-region and the removal of non-tariff barriers through the implementation of trade facilitation measures.
The Honorable Marion Henry reaffirmed FSM’s support towards advancing sub-region integration as substantiated by the institutional support currently provided to the MTEC Interim Secretariat by the FSM Government through the Department of Resources and Development. He reiterated the importance of trade and investment facilitation measures and the harmonization of labor and immigration laws as initial steps towards the sub-regional integration. The Honorable Sengebau informed the Meeting that a draft resolution on the ratification has been submitted to the Parliament and reaffirmed Palau’s commitment to support the operations of the MTEC Interim Secretariat.
With respect to trade and investment facilitation measures, the 7th MTEC Ministers’ Meeting noted the preliminary findings of the trade and investment facilitation needs assessment Workshop and endorsed the MTEC Trade and Investment Facilitation roadmap held on July 7-9, 2015, and directed the MTEC Interim Secretariat, in collaboration with Member States, to mobilize resources available from relevant technical agencies such as ITC, UNCTAD, and the Commonwealth Secretariat, as well as traditional and non-traditional development partners to implement the MTEC Trade and Investment Facilitation Roadmap. In addition, MTEC Ministers discussed and agreed among other things to start right away, the creation of a database of private sector doing business in the region for dissemination.
With respect to harmonization of labor and immigration laws between the FSM, RMI, and Palau, MTEC Ministers noted that presently nationals from the FSM and Palau are granted visa-free entry into the RMI for an unlimited period of time and do not require a permit to work in the RMI; and that these benefits were not reciprocated to RMI citizens. The 7th MTEC Ministers recalled that the issue was already discussed during the 12th Micronesian Presidents’ Summit and that action was needed. The issue will be reviewed with Ministers and Officials responsible for Labor and Immigration at the next MTEC Meeting to discuss progress made. The 7th MTEC Ministers’ Meeting also considered updates in ongoing trade negotiations involving the FSM, RMI, and Palau, in particular the negotiations for the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus negotiations between Forum Island Countries and Australia and New Zealand and the negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Pacific Countries and the European Union.
Finally, MTEC Ministers agreed to mobilize annual voluntary financial contributions to support the implementation of the MTEC 2015-2019 Work Program to achieve the objectives and goals of the MTEC.
For more information, please contact: MTEC Interim Secretariat/FSM Department of Resources and Development; telephone (691) 320-2646/5133; fax: (691) 320-5854; e-mail: email@example.com.