The regional free trade agreement known as PACER Plus is unlikely to be launched at this week's Pacific Islands Forum.
The formal start of negotiations on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations were expected to be announced at this meeting.
Megan Whelan is in Cairns, where the meeting begins today.
"The Pacific ACP countries - which includes all members of the forum except Australia and New Zealand, met yesterday ahead of the forum and discussed trade issues throughout the region. The meeting chair, Niue's Premier Toke Talagi, says they agreed to appoint a negotiator, but that some countries need time to consider the implications of a trade deal, and he doesn't believe it will be launched this week. The leaders today are expected to discuss climate change, as well as the impacts of the global economic crisis, and the situation in Fiji. New Caledonia's president, Philippe Gomes has had to pull out of today's meeting because of unrest in his country, instead sending the Congress President Harold Martin."