5 Aug 2009

Regional leaders seek advice on whether Fiji must be included in trade talks

7:41 am on 5 August 2009

Regional leaders are to ask for advice on whether Fiji must be included in regional trade talks.

The formal start of negotiations on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations were expected to be announced at today's Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Cairns.

The Pacific ACP countries - which includes all members of the forum except Australia and New Zealand, met yesterday, and the chair of the meeting, Niue's Premier Toke Talagi, says Fiji's place in the negotiations still needs to be decided.

"We decided that Fiji's role, because of the decision that was taken by the leaders in Papua New Guinea, they cannot be involved in Forum meetings. However we acknowledge the fact that they are part of the PICTA and PACER agreements, and the leaders will be requested to discuss this particular issue and direct the forum secretariat as to what we should be doing with respect to that."

Toke Talagi says forum leaders will need to make a decision, but he believes that will be to ask for legal counsel through an independent advisor.