Samoa PM leads delegation for Atoa o Samoa

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Samoa’s Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa will lead Samoa’s delegation to the Atoa o Samoa meeting in American Samoa this week.

The Samoan Cabinet at its meeting on last Wednesday finalised and approved the final list of the delegates who will be traveling to American Samoa for the bi-annual meeting.

In response to queries from the media last week, PM Mata’afa also confirmed that the Government of American Samoa has also invited the Government of Samoa to attend the commemoration of the territory’s flag day next week.

“The policy we have currently is that the Head of State and the Prime Minister can travel to accept the invitation and attend the flag day for American Samoa,” Mata’afa said.

“However, I think it’s more convenient that if the Head of State is able to attend to represent the Government of Samoa, then the Prime Minister does not have to travel as well.

“We can assign a Cabinet Minister to accompany the Head of State but I feel like it’s more appropriate that if the Head of State is going, there is no need for the Prime Minister to travel as well.

“But if His Highness is not able to attend, then the Prime Minister can travel on behalf of the Government of Samoa to make things easier for the host nation.

“I understand the Head of State had been in Fiji carrying out his duties as the Chancellor of the regional university, and we will discuss with him whether he will be available to travel to American Samoa for the celebration of their flag day or not.

“But I will still be going to American Samoa (this week) for the Atoa o Samoa meeting which is held a week before the flag day for American Samoa.”

Last year, the leaders of the two Government agreed to have the Atoa o Samoa meetings twice a year.

The last time the two governments met was in October of 2022, where Samoa hosted the delegation from American Samoa in Apia.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the conclusion of the meeting in October last year on development cooperations between the two countries.

The MOU recognises the important and enduring relations between American Samoa and Samoa founded on shared history, culture, language, social and family ties.
It also considered the common objectives between the two countries to “promote economic development and co-operation to obtain fuller opportunities for social progress, pursue measures for sustainable development, and strengthen good governance and security.”

The MOU also outlined various issues the two countries agreed to work collaboratively to improve on.

This included trade, financial and auditing services, labour mobility, telecommunications, health, education, sports and culture, tourism and hospitality, infrastructure, environment and climate change, agriculture and fisheries, border security, law enforcement, search and rescue and gender equality.

The two governments also agreed to have a “permanent committee” that will make decisions and provide direction in accordance with the MOU.

This committee is made up of the the Governor, the Attorney General of the American Samoa Government and the Chief of Staff of the Governor’s Office, and the Prime Minister and two Ministers of State of the Government of the Independent State of Samoa.

They also agreed to set up an “Officials Joint Taskforce” comprising all relevant Heads of Departments or Government agencies from both countries, co-chaired by the Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Government of the Independent State of Samoa, and the Chief of Staff of the Governor’s Office, American Samoa Government.

The Taskforce shall be responsible for development and coordination of programmes and projects under the MOU.

SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS