Thursday 27 July 2022, Apia Samoa. After being on hold for several years, Samoa and American Samoa will resume the annual Two-Samoa Talks this week.
Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa arrived into American Samoa on Wednesday afternoon with a delegation of about 30 selected Ministers and CEOs.
The Samoa Prime Minister and her delegation were greeted by American Samoa Governor, Lemanu Palepoi Peleti Mauga on the tarmac. Also present to welcome their guests were Paramount Chief Mauga Tasi Asuega as well as Police Commissioner Lefiti Atiulagi F. Pese.
Prime Minister Fiame had announced during a press conference with local media on Tuesday that the American Samoa government will be hosting this year’s discussions, with Samoa having hosted the last meeting, back in 2017.
The Prime Minister said the Two-Samoa Talks have always been about the spirit of governments working together towards common issues and goals that would benefit both nations, with close familial and cultural ties.
With both governments having gone through changes in administration in recent times, now is an opportune time to resume the talks, said Fiame.
Fiame said the focus of the Two-Samoa Talks is to enhance cooperation between the two countries in development areas of common interest such as immigration, health, trade in goods and services, business conditions, agriculture, finance and security.
“The delegation to American Samoa this week will include several Ministers and relevant officials, for the focus areas to be discussed..”
“O lenei feiloaiga sa faatino mai i tausaga ua mavae i le agaga o le galulue faatasi ma le feoeoeai o Malo e lua.”
“Ma o le agaga foi lena o lenei feiloaiga, o le tulai mai o le faigamalo fou a Samoa nei, ia faapea foi le tulai o le faigamalo fou a Tutuila ma Manu’a, ua atili faaosofia ai le agaga o le fia feiloai o Samoa e lua.”
“Ou te auai atu ai i lenei fonotaga faatasi ai ma nisi o sui Minisita, ia ma faauluuluga ua tofia, e fua i mataupu o le a talanoaina i le feiloaiga lenei.”
The Prime Minister’s high level delegation includes Agriculture Minister Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Fosi Schmidt, Minister for Commerce, Industry and Labour Leatinuu Faumuina Wayne Sooialo, Finance Minister Mulipola Anarosa Ale, Minister of Aviation Olo Fiti Vaai and Speaker of the House Papalii Taeu Masipau. Samoa’s delegation will be meeting with their American Samoa counterparts, led by Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga and Lt. Governor, Talauega Eleasalo Ale.
The last discussions between Samoa and American Samoa were held in October 2017 in Apia Samoa, between Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Governor Lolo Moliga of American Samoa.
According to a 2017 joint press release, outstanding issues discussed at those talks included Trade and Economic Integration, Agriculture, Immigration, Health, Education, Transport, Telecommunication, and Tourism.
In terms of trade, Samoa had sought entry into the Territory for export of locally produced and manufactured goods, including access to the lucrative meat export markets of the United States via American Samoa.
Back in 2017, the Territory had in place a ban on taro from Samoa despite Samoa officials furnishing the results of lab tests form Germany clearing local taro from any threatening disease.
Also on the agenda in the past, were discussions on immigration requirements, which are currently much more stringent for Samoa residents entering American Samoa, while residents of the Territory have visa free access to Samoa. An arrangement based on reciprocity has been requested in the past.
The delegation from Samoa will stay three days for the official visit in the Territory. Having crossed the International Dateline, the delegation left on Wednesday (in Samoa), and arrived on Tuesday (in American Samoa).
A fundraising dinner for the Faatuatua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party is being organised after the official visit, with corporate tables selling at USD$1,000.