Work on reaching a broader overarching Bilateral Border Agreement between Solomon Islands and Vanuatu has begun following a successful Senior Officials meeting between the two countries from 11th -12 May (2023) on Rah Island, Motalava in Vanuatu.
A draft Border Arrangement Agreement was used as the basis for the discussions with an agreement for a commitment to conduct further consultations in both respective capitals before concluding negotiations by July 2023.
Speaking during the close of the meeting on Thursday, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Collin Beck said the first Senior Officials meeting was a success.
Permanent Secretary Beck paid tribute to the two Prime Ministers of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu for signing the Motalava treaty back in 2016.
He said the Senior Officials Meeting builds on the Motalava treaty and is the beginning of a new journey in strengthening the spirit of “umi wan, umi yet, umi tugeda” along the common and shared border between Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.
“The agreement is to facilitate people to people movement, rekindle culture and traditional connections, facilitate trade and breathe life into the wantok spirit,” He added.
During the Joint Border Arrangement Talks, the delegates were provided an overview of the Motalava Treaty where approval was given to commence work on a Bilateral Border Agreement to facilitate cooperation, movement of peoples and trade along the shared border.
The meeting also agreed to establish a Joint Border Committee to translate the Motalava Treaty into action and formulate guidelines and procedures for the effective implementation of the proposed draft broader border agreement by working with border agencies and all border stakeholders.
The Draft Agreement also covered cooperation in search and rescue cooperation, humanitarian, transport and communication cooperation from air services to maritime cooperation.
The delegates agreed that the next Solomon Islands and Vanuatu Senior Officials Meeting will be hosted in Temotu Province, in June/July 2023 to finalize the draft Basic Border Arrangement before the MSG Leader’s Summit in July 2023.
Leaders of both countries have agreed on a proposal from the Solomon Islands to establish other Police, Immigration, Bio-security and Customs Cooperation to manage and regulate trade and movements of people across the border.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Collin Beck and Director General of Vanuatu’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, Kalfau Kaloris summed up the two days meeting with the signing of an outcome document.
—MFAET PRESS RELEASE