20 Oct 2008

Pacific solidarity vital in regional trade negotiations

4:25 pm on 20 October 2008

The Chair of the Pacific ACP Trade Ministers Meeting has called for regional solidarity as island countries negotiate the Economic Partnership Agreement, or EPA with the European Union and the regional PACER Plus deal.

The body is now meeting in Nadi to consider progress on the EPAs, and what approach should be taken to the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement, or PICTA, and the Pacific Agreement for Closer Economic Relations, or PACER, with Australia and New Zealand.

Chair Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Fiji's interim Minister for Indigenous Affairs, says the island countries strength is in numbers and they must not allow regional unity to be derailed by the prospect of short term gains.

And Ratu Epeli says a priority should be to establish an Office of the Chief Trade Adviser as soon as possible, as the vital first step in preparations for PACER Plus negotiations.