The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Brett Mason, will visit Samoa today, where he will announce a $20 million dollar economic infrastructure program, including improvements to roads, bridges and IT communications.

"Samoa is an important partner in the region. Our relations are strong and productive. I am very pleased to be visiting Samoa, for the first time as Parliamentary Secretary," said Senator Mason.

"Economic growth, driven by the private sector and supported by trade liberalisation, has been the key to reducing poverty on a large scale. The model of an open, export-orientated economy with a flourishing private sector gives developing countries the best chance of increasing prosperity and living standards. The productive sectors of the economy need better infrastructure to grow. Australia is pleased to be supporting Samoa in this through the new economic infrastructure program."

During his visit Senator Mason will see first-hand Samoa’s preparations for their hosting of the 2014 United Nations Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) conference in September. In his meeting with Prime Minister Tuilaepa, Senator Mason will confirm a further $1 million of Australian support to help Samoa host the SIDS conference.

The SIDS conference will be the largest event ever staged in Samoa with over 3000 delegates expected to attend. Australia previously provided $250,000 to support delegates’ travel to the conference. We are also providing up to $1.18 million through the Samoa Australia Police Partnership for broader policing support to the nation.

"The SIDS conference is a once-in-a-decade event for Samoa. It offers a great opportunity for Samoa and other Pacific countries to demonstrate regional and global leadership on issues of particular concern to SIDS, including economic growth, gender equality, natural resource management and health," Senator Mason said.

Senator Mason will also visit a taro production research centre, where Australia is supporting research to improve the quality of taro, Samoa’s staple food crop, and helping farmers increase access to export markets.

"Agriculture sustains many households in Samoa and helping farmers to increase income generating activities will promote economic growth, reduce poverty and maintain food security," Senator Mason said.

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