Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea 13th Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) will be held in Honiara from the 20th-21st April 2023.
The SOM in Honiara later this week will see the resumption of the annual meeting between the two countries since the Covid-19 pandemic. The senior officials will discuss areas of development cooperation in education, trade, judicial, air service, border arrangements and security along the common border.
Among the key issues to be discussed is management of the PNG and Solomon Islands border and to ensure frameworks in place are implemented to enable ease for movement of traditional communities and facilitation on goods and services on the border. On that note, Officials are expected to conclude review of Border Agreements, update on border matters and update on the operationalization of police MOU/Agreement. The discussions on the Border Agreements were held during the 8th JBC Meeting that was held in Gizo, Western Province, on August 28 and 29, 2019.
Solomon Islands and PNG have several MoUs/Agreements that were signed in the areas of judicial assistance, education, customs cooperation, biosecurity and air services.
A new MoU on Immigration was also been finalized and is ready for signing in May 2023.
Another issue relates to border trade with regards to business investments in PNG by Solomon Islands companies. There is minimal investment of Solomon Islands products into the PNG market. PNG, on the other hand has over 50 registered companies in Solomon Islands, thus the existence of a great trade imbalance.
Discussions will also look at regional and sub-regional Issues, among ideas pushed for by the Solomon Islands is the need for a sub-regional security framework in place within the MSG group of countries.
Moreover, Solomon Islands would like to encourage the remaining members of MSG Vanuatu and PNG to sign up to the MSG Trade agreement and the need for the MSG Secretariat to strengthen the implementation and monitoring of the MSG Trade Agreement.
Other areas of sub-regional discussions would be centred on Music and Cultural Exchanges as well as sports.
The 13th Officials meeting will also be discussing Pacific Islands Forum Matters, particularly on the Suva agreement, review of the regional architecture and the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
Solomon Islands delegation will be led by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Mr. Collin Beck and the Papua New Guinea delegation is led by the Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Magdalene Mohie.