24 Jul 2007

Forum Economic Ministers agree labour mobility is a way forward for Pacific Islands

7:55 am on 24 July 2007

Forum Economic Ministers have agreed in a recent meeting in Palau that labour mobility is the way forward for Pacific Islands to boost their economies.

The 2007 Forum Economic Ministers' Meeting recommended for forum leaders to push for some kind of labour mobility arrangement with Australia and New Zealand, at the forum meeting in Tonga in October.

The Solomon Islands finance minister Gordon Darcy Lilo says all forum member countries would greatly benefit from a seasonal workers scheme or permanent employment arrangement with the two countries.

"I feel that what is left right now is basically to get Australia and New Zealand to be committed to some kind of bilateral cooperation with countries in the Pacific so that we should be able to move forward with utilising access to some of the unskilled labourers that are now available in the countries of the Pacific to obtain good employment in Australia and New Zealand, and then providing them with remittances back to their home economy."

Gordon Darcy.

Currently countries already benefiting from a seasonal labour employment scheme to New Zealand are Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, and the Cook Islands.