8 Jul 2003

NGO says Pacific Countries being forced into unaffordable trade deals

4:52 pm on 8 July 2003

The Pacific Network on Globalisation in Fiji says it is concerned about Pacific countries being forced into trade deals that they may not be able to afford.

PANG's Stanley Simpson says Pacific countries involved in talks for an economic agreement with the European Union may have to hold similar talks with Australia and New Zealand which will be costly.

Mr Simpson says the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations PACER allows island states 8 years for economic reform before holding free trade talks with New Zealand and Australia under PICTA.

But he says the EU talks will also trigger this part of the PICTA deal earlier.

Mr Simpson says Pacific countries with stuggling economies will not be able to afford this.

"We will see Australia and New Zealand saying you are negotiating an economic partnership agreement with the EU, now you have to negotiate a free trade agreement also with us....It will involve major adjustment costs, even for power houses in the region, like Fiji....Now if that is a lot of adjustment cost for Fiji, then think of countries like Vanuatu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands"

Stanley Simpson.

An African, Carribean and Pacific group summit will be held Fiji later this month to discuss their Cotonou Agreement with the EU and its compliance with World Trade Organisation rules.