21 Oct 2009

Oxfam urges trade talks to focus on economic development

1:41 pm on 21 October 2009

Oxfam New Zealand says a Pacific regional trade agreement, being discussed later this week in Brisbane, must focus on economic development ahead of trade matters.

Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers will meet to develop a framework for the negotiations over the PACER Plus regional trade agreement which may lead to a Pacific common market in goods and services.

The meeting will determine timelines for the negotiations and develop the parameters of the office of the chief trade advisor who is to provide independent advice to the island countries.

Barry Coates of Oxfam New Zealand says while New Zealand and Australia have said PACER Plus is about the development of the island countries, now it's time for them to walk the talk, and look at what's required for economic development.

"To do that you have to engage with actors outside of the governments, and governments have to have the time to be able to consult properly with their private sector, with civil society, and then come to a view as to what the economic development priorities are, and then, only subsequently, can you understand how trade policy might support or undermine that."

Barry Coates