THE Melanesian countries in the Pacific dominate the economic landscape in the region and with that vantage point; they are on the verge of formalising a new free trade agreement to operate in a single market economy that will bring prosperity to their citizens and economies.
We can call them the M4 or the Big4 – PNG, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – whose combined market size of 9.6 million people encompasses 94 per cent of the whole Pacific region. But they prefer to be known as the MSG, or the Melanesian Spearhead Group. And just as the name suggests, its role is to spearhead trade and economic integration for the benefit of the member countries.
The idea to form a new trade bloc was first introduced in 2005 by the MSG leaders and over the years the concept has blossomed into what is now being penned to allow the free movement of goods and services, investments, and labour amongst the four countries. Consent to the agreement from Solomon Islands and Fiji make it half complete. Once PNG and Vanuatu ratify, which could be any day now, it becomes the only trade agreement operational in the Pacific.
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