26 Oct 2006

Pacific Plan for regional integration may fail - says German academic

6:55 am on 26 October 2006

A German academic says the Pacific Plan for regional integration may fail because it takes a top down approach to development.

In a paper released by Australian think tank, the Centre for Independent Studies, Stephan Freitag says what is needed is a more organic bottom-up approach based on initiatives from the island countries themselves.

Don Wiseman has more.

"Mr Freitag says the top-down approach to regional integration is based on foreign aid and has strong support from academics and inter government organisations, but is highly inefficient. He says with a bottom up approach economic integration is not regarded as an inevitable outcome of this process, but it emphasizes the importance of letting the Pacific Islands countries find their own way to economic development. He says small economies can be prosperous and it is a matter of focussing on their international comparative advantages. Mr Freitag says lagging economic growth can only be tackled by economic reforms in each island to increase agricultural production and create private sector jobs. He says without rising incomes and greatly improved social conditions, the Pacific is not only in grave danger of further instability but it could become a focus for international crime, and drug and arms trafficking."