Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers want wide ranging national consultations to be included in the negotiations on the PACER Plus plan for closer economic interaction in the region.
At an initial meeting on PACER Plus late last week in Brisbane the Ministers also announced that New Zealand academic, Dr Chris Noonan, would be the chief trade advisor for the island countries.
Don Wiseman has more:
"In the first 12 months the Ministers say negotiations should focus on consolidating the advisory office, to be set up in Vanuatu, and intensifying the national consultations. Dr Noonan teaches international and comparative law at the University of Auckland, and specialises in regional economic integration and World Trade Organisation issues. The Ministers say the national consultations need to involve as many communities and stakeholders as possible. They have directed the Forum Secretariat to organise an annual discussion with regional non-state actors on the margins of a Forum trade meeting. They also agreed that Solomon Islands, as the lead spokesperson for Forum Island Countries in the negotiations, is to keep the Fiji interim government informed about the weekend meeting. Fiji is excluded from the PACER Plus discussions after being suspended from the Forum, but the Ministers say keeping Fiji abreast of developments will eventually be part of the Dr Noonan's role of the chief trade advisor."