17 Jun 2009

Without Fiji, Australia and NZ fast track PACER

2:32 pm on 17 June 2009

Fiji's absence from Pacific trade talks in Samoa will help New Zealand and Australia fast track changes to the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relationship.

That's what University of Auckland law professor, Dr Jane Kelsey, has told NGOs gathered in Apia ahead of this week's meeting of Trade Ministers.

The Ministers are expected to bring forward negotiations on what has become known as PACER-Plus, but Dr Kelsey says, with Fiji excluded as a result of its suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum, any decision reached on trade agreement will have no legal foundation.

She also says Fiji has been one of the most rigorous in calling for caution, research and consultation before going forward with PACER-Plus.

"And there exclusion appears to be likely to have the effect of allowing Australia and New Zealand to fast track the process with much less resistance than would occur otherwise."

Dr Jane Kelsey