22 Jun 2009

Fiji's Attorney General says regional trade negotiations meaningless without Fiji

7:20 am on 22 June 2009

Fiji's Attorney General says any trade negotiations between Pacific Forum Island countries and Australia and New Zealand would be meaningless without Fiji.

He made the comments in a statement expressing regret at the exclusion of Fiji from regional trade talks that have just ended in Samoa.

Fiji's exclusion is a result of its suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum in April.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji's exclusion from the Pacific Closer Economic Relations, or PACER, talks also has the potential to impact on his country's economic development .

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji is a party to PACER, having signed and ratified the Agreement in 2001, and the decision to exclude Fiji from discussions is a violation of her rights under the treaty.

He added that in the absence of Fiji, the interim regime feared the governments of Australia and New Zealand would use their dominant economic and political position to fast-track the commencement and the conclusion of PACER-Plus negotiations.

He said the long term development interests of the small island economies could be overlooked.