18 Oct 2010

Pacific non state actors appreciate PACER Plus talks, but want more say

6:16 pm on 18 October 2010

New Zealand and Australia have been told they have to do more to ensure that proper consultations can be held into the contentious PACER Plus trade deal.

PACER Plus, which will include the island countries and New Zealand and Australia, would usher in a common market in goods and services in the Pacific.

A one day meeting, at which non state actors were briefed on the proposals by ministers, has just been held in Honiara.

Groups such as the Pacific Islands Association of Non-government Organisations, PIANGO, attended the briefing but others' were left out.

PIANGO chair, Drew Havea, says they want New Zealand and Australia to provide more resources to ensure there are full consultations, particularly at the country level.

"We are also calling for inclusion of other private sectors, other NGOs, regional NGOs, indigenous voices into the dialogue."

Meanwhile a Pacific agency representing private business says it should be directly involved in the negotiations.

The CEO of the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisations, Mereia Volavola, says their involvement is critical because in any trade agreement the private sector is what makes the trade flow.

She says they appreciate this consultation but want to take it a step further.

When it comes to negotiation we want the private sector representatives sitting there with the trade officials when they are going to engage in the negotiations.