14 Jul 2009

Call to shift PACER Plus negotiations from Forum to MSG

2:38 pm on 14 July 2009

A former senior Pacific Islands Forum official has called for the regional PACER Plus trade agreement to be taken off the agenda of next month's Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Cairns.

Roman Grynberg made the call in an open letter to the Papua New Guinea prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, saying the whole negotiating process should be moved to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which he says is a more neutral body.

Mr Grynberg has also expressed concern at Fiji's exclusion, saying an entire people will be penalised by events not of their own making as the Forum has suspended Fiji over the actions of its military that seized power in a coup in 2006.

He also says Australia and New Zealand have shown excessive haste in pushing Pacific Island countries into negotiations when they are not ready.

Mr Grynberg says the PACER Plus negotiations cannot be handled by institutions which are thoroughly dominated by Australian and New Zealand interests.