Melanesian Spearhead Group
Melanesian Spearhead Group
Map indicating the membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
|Seat||Port Vila, Vanuatu|
|-||Director General||Peter Forau|
|-||as Melanesian Spearhead Group||1983|
363,850 sq mi
|GDP (PPP)||2010 estimate|
|-||Total||US$ 20.512 billiona|
|-||Per capita||US$ 2,457|
|a.||If considered a single entity.|
The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is an intergovernmental organization, composed of the four Melanesian states of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as well as the FLNKS of New Caledonia. It was founded as a political gathering in 1983. On 23 March 2007, members signed the Agreement Establishing the Melanesian Spearhead Group, formalizing the group under international law. It is headquartered in Port Vila, Vanuatu. A secretariat building has been constructed by the People's Republic of China and handed over to the MSG in November 2007. The first MSG Director General was Rima Ravusiro of Papua New Guinea. Since September 2011, Peter Forau of Solomon Islands heads the MSG.
One of the key features of the MSG is the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement, a sub-regional preferential trade agreement established to foster and accelerate economic development through trade relations and provide a political framework for regular consultations and review on the status of the Agreement, with a view to ensuring that trade both in terms of exports and imports is undertaken in a genuine spirit of Melanesian Solidarity and is done on a most favoured nation (MFN) basis. Negotiations are held regularly between the members' leaders to consider the progress and developments of the agreement. After a revision in 2005, it covers 180 articles free of fiscal duty.
The MSG Trade Agreement was signed in 1993 by Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. At the 6th Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Trade and Economic Officials’ Meeting on 16 April 1997 in Honiara, the Fiji delegation indicated its willingness to accede to it. This initiative was endorsed at the 1997 MSG Leaders Summit. Fiji became a formal member of the MSG Trade Agreement on 14 April 1998. The 9th MSG Trade & Economic Officials meeting was held in Papua New Guinea on 29 and 30 November 2000. This meeting saw the acceptance of the expansion of the MSG Product Schedule tariff headings from four digit to six digits, thereby facilitating MSG trade by removing the ambiguity in product identification at Customs points of entry. The agreement is General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) consistent and has been approved and accorded recognition by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Regional Arrangements to be compatible and meeting the requirements of Article 24 of the GATT/WTO Agreement.
In July 2010, Fiji expelled Australia's acting high commissioner accusing the latter of causing the postponement of a so-called Engaging Fiji meeting. Australia responded that it had to do with the lack of democracy in the country. An alternate meeting was held instead despite pressure from Australia and New Zealand. It was attended by Prime Minister Michael Somare of Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Derek Sikua of the Solomon Islands, President Anote Tong of Kiribati, Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia of Tuvalu, and Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji.
See also 
- Polynesian Leaders Group, launched in 2011, partly as a response to the MSG
- Agreement Establishing the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
- Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement.
- MSG: trading on political capital and Melanesian solidarity, Pacific Institute of Public Policy, Briefing Paper 02, July 2008.
- MSG Secretariat building handed over to govt, Vanuatu DailyPost, 6 November 2007.
- Rima Ravusiro heads the MSG, Radio Australia, 6 June 2008.
- New MSG boss arrives in Vanuatu, Solomon Star, 22 September 2011.
- Fiji PM wins backing from MSG leaders, Radio Australia, 11 July 2009.