21 Jun 2006

Trigger on Pacific trade deals will not be activated - New Zealand Trade Minister

1:48 pm on 21 June 2006

Pacific trade ministers who meet in Fiji from today will not be asked to extend trade arrangements made with the European Union to Australia and New Zealand.

The meeting comes as the EU pushes Pacific Islands countries to sign up to Economic Partnership Agreements which include tariff free access for both parties.

Under existing Pacific trade deals such an arrangement should also be offered to Australia and New Zealand, but the New Zealand Trade Minister, Phil Goff, says that is not something they are looking to impose upon the region.

Mr Goff says there would be a problem if the EU got preferential treatment over New Zealand but he says it would make no sense at all to take action that would impoverish the Pacific.

"That is not our game plan at all, that is totally contrary to what our wider interest is in terms of our close cultural and people to people relationships, and the fact that this is our neighbourhood and we want a stable, secure and prosperous Pacific."