22 Feb 2005

Draft Pacific Plan suggests some sweeping changes to achieve regional cooperation and integration

1:46 pm on 22 February 2005

Public submissions are being called for across the Pacific on a plan for closer regional co-operation.

The Pacific Islands Forum's Pacific Plan has been developing for the past 18 months and a task force has now drawn up a draft which includes suggestions for Pacific economic union.

The draft lays out priorities and recommends changes that could be made within the next three years.

These include the standardising of rules and practices governing trade and customs.

It says there are opportunities for regional training facilities across a number of vocations including sport.

The plan says a harmonized approach to health will improve standards and suggests similar approaches to environmental and natural resource management.

It advocates regional support for human rights mechanisms, saying this will help strengthen national justice systems along with regional training for judiciary staff.

The Plan says the region has to help countries strengthen their key institutions of national integrity such as the Audit, Ombudsman and Attorney Generals Offices.

It advocates the regional marketing of tourism and while full economic union is advocated this would be a longer term goal - more than five years distant.