10 Dec 2002

NGO against globalisation says Regional free trade agreements will bankrupt small countries

5:55 pm on 10 December 2002

The Pacific Area Network on Globalisation or PANG claims that the economies of the region's smaller countries could be decimated by free trade agreements such as the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement or PICTA.

PANG's Spokesman, Stanley Simpson says PICTA as well as other agreements formulated within organisations such as the Melanesian Spearhead Group benefit bigger Pacific nations at the expense of small ones.

His comments come after Solomon Islands asked for a temporary suspension of it's membership within the MSG and Vanuatu requested the right to impose tariffs on selected imported goods.

Mr Simpson says Pacific leaders have rushed into free trade agreements without considering the negative impacts they will have on their societies and economies.

He says as well as encourage inter-island trade, Pacific trade agreements must protect small nations.

"to have a wholesale free trade agreement in which you know, there's no protection of industries that are vulnerable like those in the Pacific are being wiped out, and they are expected to compete on an equal footing or on a level playing field,....the reality is that a lot of the local companies will not be able to compete. We would like to see this addressed rather than one size fits all, without taking into account our local situation."

Stanely Simpson from PANG