2 Sep 2011

NGOs urge Australia to respect Pacific trade advisor issue

5:08 pm on 2 September 2011

There's a call for the Australian government not to use next week's Pacific Islands Forum leaders' summit to undermine the sovereignty of the Island countries.

The call from NGOs in the Pacific and Australia comes as the Forum leaders are due to reach a decision on the mandate for the Vanuatu-based Office of the Chief Trade Advisor, or OCTA.

That body was set up to give independent trade policy advice to the Island nations on the planned regional free trade agreement, known as PACER-Plus.

The Pacific Network on Globalisation says the decision on the office's mandate is a matter of sovereignty for the Island Countries, but it says Australia appears to be standing in the way.

The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network says Australia promotes good governance in the region but then limits the ability of Island Governments to decide what's in their interest.

It says Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, needs to show Australia respects the sovereignty of the Island governments by ensuring the decision on the OCTA remains in the hands of the Island Governments.