Samoa. According to Countryaah.com, Samoa and eleven other Pacific Island nations signed a historic trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand in April. It was concluded after eight years of negotiations aimed at reducing barriers to trade, increasing tourism and raising the standard of living in the region. The agreement applies to goods, services and investments, but also includes development assistance to create jobs and promote island exports.
In July, Samoa’s parliament unanimously elected Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi as new head of state, or king, for the next five years. Tuimaleali’ifano is a lawyer, holds a chief title and is one of the country’s most experienced politicians.
The UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women visited Samoa in August to follow up reports of increasing violence against women in the country. In a survey, 46% of women responded that they had been abused in some way by their partner, and 60% said that they had been physically abused by someone other than the partner. The investigation into violence against women has been initiated by Samoa’s Ombudsman.