PM: Samoa is happy to explore the opportunities with America

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Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa is “happy to begin to explore the opportunities” with the United States of America following the one day visit by Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman to Samoa. 

This week Sherman came to Samoa as part of her regional trip to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to engage meaningfully with fellow Pacific nations in the spirit of partnership and friendship.

Fiame welcomed Sherman, the most senior representative of the US Administration to visit us and especially since our Administration and the current Government has taken office.

“We are very pleased to receive your visit Deputy Secretary. I think it is always an advantage for parties to meet face-to-face and the COVID context has prevented us from doing this.

“I won’t canvass the scope of issues raised and I think the Deputy Secretary has covered that very well, but I think because of we are moving into post-COVID.

“cannot let the opportunity go without publicly expressing our appreciation and thankfulness to the Government of the United States for their assistance through COVID and directly bilaterally to our COVID response, and I’ve informed the Deputy Secretary that our rates now for vaccinations are in the 90 to 93 per cent and that has been able to offer us coverage and security, herd immunity and leading Government to make the decision to open our borders on the 1st of August.

“It’s very good that we are able to welcome you very early on in the opening of our borders, and we hope to also have other opportunities to host representatives of your Government and I understand that the Ambassador in Wellington will be visiting us next year.

The other key point that I had indicated appreciation to Deputy Secretary is the shift in policy of the United States with respect to climate change and the return of the US to the climate discourse, the Paris Agreement. The US is a significant partner and we are very pleased to see their return to the climate discourse.,” said Prime Minister.

She also acknowledged their appreciation to Ambassador Kerry’s leadership with the oceans work and more recently the Pacific hosted the Ocean’s Conference in Palau, and look forward to furthering that work and especially the nexus between climate change and oceans which are issues that are very pertinent to our Blue Pacific Continent.

“With the loss of our patrol boat we have been very appreciative of the regional collaboration and with our development partners including the U.S. through their Coast Guard and other Naval Vessels on the security and surveillance within the region and the protections of our economic zones.

“The Peace Corps, COVID has not permitted the volunteers coming in but the presence of Peace Corps remains in Samoa with their office and the leadership in the Administration and we do look forward to a return of normality. The Peace Corps has been a constant US flagship, the programme has contributed significantly to many sectors but especially the education sector here in Samoa and we look forward to continuing that work with the Peace Corps.”

Fiame said the Deputy Secretary has kindly indicated that she is here to learn and to listen. “But it is also an opportunity for us here in Samoa and for myself as the leader to have firsthand discourse with this level of representation from the United States Government.

“When I was in Fiji last month, the Vice President announced decisions not only with regards to the Tuna Treaty, to the amount of $60,000,000 dollars per year for the next treaty period but also the Vice President laid out the general frameworks of how the US would like to work with us in the Pacific and we are very happy to begin to explore the opportunities that we have there, and mutual benefits I hope for all of us.

Deputy Secretary let me just say that we are very mindful that you have quite a programme ahead of you, very envious of the fact that these large countries have airplanes and can cover three or four countries in a day, and we wish you safe travels.”