Melanesian Free Trade Agreement (MFTA) and the Melanesian Travel Card (MTC) ACP – EU dialogue


The MSG Secretariat highlighted the Melanesian Free Trade Agreement (MFTA) and the Melanesian Travel Card (MTC) during the recent ACP – EU dialogue with regional partners and stakeholders held I Pot Vila, Vanuatu.

The ACP – EU dialogue aimed at further strengthening the ACP-EU Migration Action Technical Assistance Programmes provided to Pacific ACP states and regional organisations and to allow for all stakeholders to share their experiences on visa policies and modernisation of integrated border management.

The Deputy Director General of the MSG Secretariat, Mr. Peter Eafeare in his remarks during the meeting stated that the MSG sub-region signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Skilled Movement Scheme (SMS) was incepted in 2013. Mr Eafeare said the rationale for the SMS was to facilitate temporary movement of skilled MSG nationals within the MSG sub-region. He said the SMS now formed the basis for a labour mobility regime in Chapter 7 of the Melanesian Free Trade Agreement (MFTA).

The Deputy Director General said that the scope of the MFTA extends beyond trade in goods to include new areas of trade in services, labour mobility and cross border investments and is intended to operationalize this labour mobility regime through technical assistance from the ACP-EU Migration Action and International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

He stated that the baseline assessment studies recommended amendments to domestic legislations and policies on immigration and labour to waive visas and work permits, a Standard Operating Procedure to facilitate movement of skilled nationals within MSG sub-region and the Melanesian Travel Card (MTC). Once enforced, the MTC will greatly improve efficiency and effectiveness in movement within the MSG sub-region of certain categories of visas for MSG nationals.

Mr Eafeare said that the MFTA will become operational as soon as two members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group completes the domestic processes to ratify the Agreement.

The Deputy Director General conveyed the Secretariat’s sincere gratitude and appreciation to ACP-EU Migration Action and IOM for their continuous support to the MSG labour mobility regime.