24 Oct 2005

Oxfam calls for trade deal rethink

4:13 pm on 24 October 2005

Oxfam New Zealand says there has to be a rethink of the pressure applied to island countries seeking to join international trade agreements.

The NGO has just released a report detailing the onerous conditions placed on Vanuatu when it tried unsuccessfully to become a member of the World Trade Organisation of WTO.

The report comes as Tonga enters the final stages of its accession process and it is facing similar conditions that could threaten its economic viability.

Oxfam's Barry Coates says they are also concerned at the pressure on the island countries from the European Union over a new trade/aid deal.

In addition to that, he says there is a push from New Zealand and Australia for the PACER economic cooperation plan to be broadened and activated earlier.

"We're worried about the numbers of ways in which there is pressure on the pacific island countries to liberalise far too early in their development process in ways that will really undermine their development, will cause major problems in terms of government revenue and will impose huge costs on those countries."

Oxfam New Zealand's Barry Coates