Is the Pacific ready for trade talks?
Jun 21, 2006
Pacific Trade Ministers begin annual talks in Fiji on Wednesday, amid claims New Zealand is pressuring Pacific Forum countries into starting free trade negotiations they are not ready for.
The trade talks between New Zealand, Australia and the other 14 Pacific Island Forum nations are not scheduled to start until 2011.
But the date can be legally brought forward if the 14 Pacific countries start negotiating a rival trade pact, as they are currently doing with the European Union.
Aid agency Oxfam says New Zealand and Australia are pressuring Pacific Island countries.
Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director, Barry Coates, says it has heard New Zealand and Australia are lobbying behind the scenes for the trade talks to start early.
Trade Minister, Phil Goff denies the claim saying all that is being asked for is a series of impact studies.