27 Jul 2007

Forum countries encouraged to identify alternatives to aid

4:22 pm on 27 July 2007

Forum Island Countries are being urged to identify an alternative and more sustainable basis for the region's development agenda instead on relying on aid.

Vanuatu's Minister for Trade, James Bule, has told a Forum trade officials meeting in Port Vila that this is where trade comes in as a sustainable basis for development - something that the founding fathers of the Forum envisaged when they talked about the need for trade and not aid.

The trade officials from the 16-member Forum countries will among other issues discuss the implementation of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations, or PACER.

PACER provides for financial and technical assistance on trade facilitation, trade promotion, capacity building and structural adjustment including fiscal reform measures.

One aspect of PACER under discussion will be Article 6 which concerns the obligations on Island countries to extend free trade arrangements to Australia and New Zealand, if they make such an agreement with another party.

The Pacific countries that are members of the ACP grouping are under pressure to reach a free trade deal with the European Union be the end of this year.