25 Oct 2005

Pacific leaders gather for Forum summit in Papua New Guinean capital

11:22 am on 25 October 2005

A regional summit, expected to usher in a new era in the Pacific, begins with a cultural spectacular in Papua New Guinea's capital Port Moresby this evening.

The Pacific Plan - a document which outlines ways to enhance the lives of people in the region, is likely to be endorsed by the leaders.

Don Wiseman reports from Port Moresby.

"Bird flu, HIV/Aids, an update on the Forum's RAMSI mission to Solomon Islands, and what additional help can be given to the island of Nauru, will all feature on the agenda. The leaders may discuss forming five regional bodies, including the Forum, into a single agency in drive for more efficiency."

But the Pacific Plan, particularly the trade elements of the Plan, are set dominate. The incoming chairman, PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, says the Plan can be used a tool to create a prosperous future. New Zealand wants the PACER arrangement on market integration to come into play sooner than the intended date of 2011.

The island nations are calling on New Zealand and Australia to open their doors for workers on short term visas. While NGOs say trade liberalisation should be left off any deal until an impact study is complete.

The Plan contains 100s of recommendations, of which some are ready to be implemented - by Thursday we will know if this is to happen immediately.