3 Apr 2009

Vanuatu indicates support for PACER Plus during Crean visit

2:46 pm on 3 April 2009

Vanuatu's government has indicated its support for a proposed regional free trade deal between Australia, New Zealand and the wider Pacific region.

The indication came during a visit to Port Vila by Australia's trade minister, Simon Crean, to discuss the PACER Plus trade agreement with Vanuatu's government.

Speaking at a media conference, Mr Crean said Pacific Island countries have more to gain from the arrangement than Australia, which already has the advantage of high trade surplus.

However he said his government's priority is ensuring economic stability in the region, because it is a more costly exercise if countries within the region fail.

In a statement ahead of his trip, Mr Crean said Australia was determined that PACER Plus will take account of the individual circumstances of Pacific Island countries in formulating trade agreements.

The trade minister is to follow-up his visit to Vanuatu with trips to New Zealand, Tonga and Solomon Islands in a push to garner additional support for PACER Plus.