27 Aug 2003

Samoa blames New Zealand and Australia for stalling its WTO membership

4:10 pm on 27 August 2003

Samoa says demands by developed countries such as New Zealand and Australia for it to privatise public services are holding up its application for membership to the World Trade Organisation.

Samoa's secretary for Foreign Affairs, Tuala Falani Chan Tung says his country's application cannot be finalised until bilateral agreements or understandings leading to such deals are reached.

Tuala says his government is not keen on privatising all essential services because of the possible negative impact on local businesses.

But he says it's hoped that a compromise can be reached and that Samoa will be admitted to the WTO.

"Countries that are directly interested in Samoa's accession become very demanding in terms of their requests for Samoa to give in. We must protect our people, take our own interests at hand so it's a matter of compromise."

Other countries in negotiations with Samoa are the United States, European Union, Japan and Mexico.

It's expected that Samoa's application will be discussed during the 5th Ministerial WTO meeting in Cancun, Mexico next month