10 Dec 2014

New report warns of human rights risks in trade deals

4:29 pm on 10 December 2014

A new report launched today encourages Pacific island countries to take caution with trade agreements if they threaten human rights.

The Pacific Trade and Human Rights report is a joint effort the World Health Organisation and the United Nations, and was launched in Suva and Auckland.

A co-author of the report and a Pacific Policy Adviser with Oxfam, Wesley Morgan, says an example of trade impacting human rights was when the United States pressured Samoa to reverse its ban on unhealthy turkey tails imports from the US as Samoa sought WTO membership.

Mr Morgan says governments need to protect citizens when entering a trade agreement.

"The United States trade representative really pushed for Samoa to remove the ban as part of the WTO accession package. I think it is one of the areas where people need to think hard about the costs and benefits of signing on to trade agreements. And so, for Samoa, was it worth it? That's something that needs to be investigated more fully."

Fish being sold at a Solomon Islands food market.

Fish being sold at a Solomon Islands food market. Photo: RNZ