1 Aug 2009

Concerns over NZ and Australias' part in PACER-Plus highlighted in report

10:55 am on 1 August 2009

A recently released report is suggested to have exposed the commercial interests of the New Zealand and Australian governments in their negotiations with Pacific nations to extend free trade in the region.

The report entitled, "Speaking Truth to Power", was funded by the Pacific Conference of Churches.

One of the document's authors, Maureen Penjueli says the report suggests the two governments are bullying regions to sign in to an extension of a free trade agreement known as PACER-Plus.

She believes this is happening because New Zealand and Australia are putting pressure on Pacific countries.

"They've argued that as a result of the Island countries engaging in negotiations with the European Commission, that had triggered it. So they got legal argument to get countries to start a consultation process and then the second key point is about money, which is aid and the types of political pressure."

Maureen Penjueli, of the Pacific Network on Globalisation.

But, the New Zealand and Australian Trade Ministers have defended their approach on PACER PLUS saying these trade deals are vital for fostering much needed economic development in the Pacific region.