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Allowing Samoan meat exports among the 2nd Atoa o Samoa Talks outcomes

Story & Photos by Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 15 OCTOBER 2022: The approval of local meat exports to American Samoa is among several positive outcomes of the second Atoa o Samoa Executive Talks which ended with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) yesterday evening.

Agriculture -Exportation of local meats
The agreement between the two countries for exportation of local meats and eggs came into effect after the MOU was signed but the details for implementation falls on the officials of the respective government ministries of both countries.

The Governor commended Samoa’s locally produced and manufactured products which could have potential markets in American Samoa and other countries. He said the details as to the commercial meat export versus gifts (fa’aoso) will be worked out by the officials.

Fiame agreed that American Samoa is a market for Samoan produce and gateway to the mainland. The meat exports she said is on a trial basis.

Atoa o Samoa delegates
Atoa o Samoa delegates

American Samoa Governor Lemanu Palepoi Mauga and Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa with their respective delegations at the conclusion of the 2nd Atoa o Samoa Executive Talks in Apia yesterday. 

Immigration -14 days permit
American Samoa will re-activate the 14 day permit for Samoan travellers to the territory.

Currently, a 30 day permit is in place for travellers from American Samoa.

The Governor has also indicated that the Talofa Pass (which has disadvantaged a lot of Samoan travellers into the territory) will be revoked if not November then certainly in December.

Both countries also talked about open travel access without permits between the two countries, but have given the Immigration offices of both countries to look into ways to achieve this goal.

The Governor admitted that whilst American Samoa has its own laws, they however are under the jurisdiction of the United States law.

Fiame pointed to the issue of wider free access which she said is not on an equal footing when it comes to Pacific Islanders entering New Zealand and Australia.

Atoa signing
Atoa signing

The closing session of the 2nd Atoa o Samoa Executive Talks.

New issues of concern  
The Governor also noted new issues of concern that were only on the table for the Apia Atoa o Samoa Executive Talks. These include border security and drug trafficking given the rapid incidence of illegal drugs in the country.

It is a concern that Governor Mauga said had to be discussed in this second meeting as it concerns the border security of both countries.

Fiame said both countries must also work together with existing regional organizations fighting against drug trafficking in the region.

Other issues carried over from the July meeting include Education, Health, Economic Development, Agriculture, Immigration, Business and Trade.

A communiqué of the meeting’s outcome is expected with full details, but the issues which were on the top of the agenda for both countries were highlighted during a joint press conference by Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa and American Samoa Governor Lemanu Palepoi Mauga.