27 Jun 2015

Indonesia says it will help develop Melanesia

12:48 pm on 27 June 2015

The Indonesian government says it hopes to make a positive contribution to economic and developmental challenges in Melanesia.

MSG opening ceremony in Honiara

MSG opening ceremony in Honiara Photo: Dorothy Wickham

The leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which includes Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Kanaks of New Caledonia, elevated Indonesia's status from observer to associate member at the recent MSG Leaders summit in Honiara.

A spokesperson from the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, Sade Bimantara, says its associate membership is a positive step for Melanesia.

"We believe that we can contribute to the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Add value to that and also to increase connectivity between people in the Asia Pacific with those Melanesian descendants in Indonesia."

Mr Bimantara says his country's more than 250 million Indonesians are an untapped market that expands the trading power of the MSG.

Indonesia's elevation to associate member saw the bid by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua for full MSG membership rejected, though the group has been given observer status as a development partner representing the welfare of Melanesian people living outside.