18 Aug 2011

Vanuatu's Council of Churches says more consultations needed over joining WTO

7:52 pm on 18 August 2011

Vanuatu's national Council of Churches hopes to meet with the prime minister, Sato Kilman, later this month to encourage him to hold more consultations before the country joins the World Trade Organisation.

Vanuatu is on the verge of acceding to the WTO after years of negotiation but it's a move opposed by NGOs which've raised concerns, such as the possibly negative impact on domestic businesses of tariffs being removed.

The council's chair, Bishop James Ligo, says 80 percent of the people have no understanding of the merits or otherwise of joining the international trade body and the government needs to make more effort to inform them.

"The people should be given the right to have more time to getting on board [with the WTO] and also more understanding and more awareness and education on what the WTO is, and what I have already said, its advantages and disadvantages."

Bishop Ligo says if discussions with the government don't work the council may organise street marches.