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Samoa and Australia Prime Ministers sign a Bilateral Partnership Arrangement

Staff Reporters/Photos Supplied

APIA, SAMOA – 22 MARCH 2023: Samoa and Australia have signed a Bilateral Partnership Agreement – O le fala folasia i lo ta Va – as the map that will guide the renewed commitment to boost the Australia-Samoa links going forward.

The Agreement was signed in Canberra today by the Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa, at the end of Fiamē’s first state visit to Australia since she was elected Prime Minister in 2021.

A statement by the two Prime Minister following the bilateral talks said ”the closer cooperation the Partnership Arrangement will engender across the pillars of climate and disaster resilience, security cooperation, economic growth, human and socio-economic development and people-to-people linkages.”

2 PMs docs
2 PMs docs

The two Prime Minister after signing the Bilateral Agreement.

BILATERAL TALKS
The Prime Ministers’ bilateral talks reflected the longstanding relationship between Australia and Samoa, underpinned by mutual respect and trust. The Prime Ministers affirmed their strong partnership and commitment to work together on shared challenges and priorities to support a stable, prosperous and resilient Pacific region.

The Prime Ministers acknowledged the centrality of the Pacific Islands Forum in driving collective responses to shared regional challenges such as climate change, economic recovery from COVID-19 and regional security.

The leaders welcomed Kiribati’s return to the Forum. They also underlined their commitment to continue to work together to contribute to a stable, prosperous and resilient Blue Pacific, based on the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, regionalism and a Pacific family-first approach to peace and security.

URGENT ACTION TO ACCELERATE CLIMATE CHANGE
The Prime Ministers acknowledged the urgent need to accelerate international action to address the existential threat of climate change. Their discussions reinforced their commitment to work together to advance real and significant climate action and drive the transition to net-zero, welcoming Australia’s commitment to place Pacific voices at the centre of international climate discussions.

2 PMs sign

2 PMs sign
Prime Minister Fiamē expressed support for Australia’s bid to host COP31 in partnership with the Pacific. The Prime Ministers acknowledged their support and co-sponsorship of Vanuatu’s request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on climate change.

The Prime Ministers discussed how Australia and Samoa could work together to strengthen climate resilience in Samoa and the region, recognizing the threat climate change poses to livelihoods, security and wellbeing of Pacific peoples.

They reaffirmed Samoa and Australia’s close security partnership, which encompasses cooperation on maritime surveillance and ocean stewardship, policing, cyber and transnational crime.

LABOUR MOBILITY
The two Prime Ministers also discussed how the Pacific-Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) program could best operate to ensure mutual benefit, including ensuring the program delivers for all Samoans.

Prime Minister Albanese welcomed the work underway to refine Samoa’s labour mobility policy settings, and outlined the steps Australia was taking to ensure the scheme provided further opportunities for skills development.

The Prime Ministers agreed to reflect these developments in a Memorandum of Understanding that would guide the PALM partnership.

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT PEOPLE & LINKAGES
The two leaders also welcomed continued cooperation on Samoa’s human development priorities, including health, education, social inclusion and tertiary scholarships. They also welcomed progress towards support for Samoa’s infrastructure priorities through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific.

2 PMs laugh

2 PMs laugh
The Prime Ministers welcomed the strong people-to-people links between Australia and Samoa, with some 98,000 people of Samoan descent living in Australia.

They recognised the important unifying role of sports in the relationship – promoting excellence, health, gender equality and social cohesion.

The two leaders celebrated the achievement of Australia and Samoa’s national teams in reaching the Rugby League World Cup final in November 2022. The Prime Ministers acknowledged the other ways in which people-to-people linkages bring Samoans and Australians together – in faith, business and community. The Prime Ministers discussed Australia’s new Pacific Engagement Visa and its possibilities to further deepen people-to-people, business and educational linkages.

Formalising this commitment to boost Australia-Samoa links, the Prime Ministers signed a Bilateral Partnership Arrangement, O le fala folasia i lo ta Va – ‘’the map that guides us’.

The Prime Ministers warmly welcomed the closer cooperation the Partnership Arrangement will engender across the pillars of climate and disaster resilience, security cooperation, economic growth, human and socio-economic development and people-to-people linkages.

The Prime Ministers reiterated that the partnership between Australia and Samoa is based on transparency and respect for sovereignty.

2 PMs guard

2 PMs guard