The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for the administration of Government’s business with foreign countries and their governments, as well as international organisations. It is a member of a number of regional and international bodies. In policy, Samoa often aligns with countries with similar values, which is of a conservative and pro-Western orientation, although it has growing ties with China. Samoa has a strong interest in regional political and economic issues. At independence in 1962, Samoa signed a Treaty of Friendship with New Zealand. This treaty confirmed the special relationship between the two countries and provides a framework for their interaction. Under the terms of the treaty, Samoa can request that New Zealand act as a channel of communication to governments and international organizations outside the immediate area of the Pacific islands.
There are four resident embassies and high commissions in Samoa, which are from the USA, New Zealand, China and Australia, all of which are in the national capital, Apia. Others, mainly developed countries, have honorary consuls within the country. The Australian High Commission in Samoa, which acts as conduit for many of AUSAID projects, providing grants that will allow for the phasing out of school fees at all Government funded primary schools throughout the country, funding Samoans on Australian Scholarship, working with other major donors like the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Union and New Zealand to help improve the quality, range and accessibility of essential health, education, and energy services.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade operates around 20 missions in a wide range of countries and organisations, with some covering numerous nations. They are based primarily in developed nations and Samoa’s immediate neighbours. There are high commissions in Australia and New Zealand and embassies in China, Japan, Belgium and the United States (accredited also as a permanent mission to the UN). There are honorary consuls in Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom. These missions help to co-ordinate foreign policy, and maintain relations with such major players, so as to ensure that Samoa plays an active role in advancing its international interests.