17 Jan 2009

Free trade deals and WTO accession not in Vanuatu's interests, says analyst

12:20 pm on 17 January 2009

A Vanuatu policy analyst has warned that his country is not focussing enough on its natural strengths as it negotiates international free trade deals.

John Salong, the director of the Vanwoods micro-financing scheme, says foreign technocrats are trying to lure Vanuatu into trade deals which are unfair to the country due to its strategic disadvantages.

Mr Salong says Vanuatu is a small country and it survives as such because it is not a part of the mainstream industrialised capitalist market process.

He says ni-Vanuatu make ends meet through non-formal ways like the custom economy, something which shouldn't be regulated.

"Vanuatu should begin to look at them as the principal behind how it operates in these international trade agreements. Where is our exclusive competitive advantage? And we have some. And when we're going and we just tow the line in terms of access to WTO, we go and tow the line in terms of falling into pressure that will come with PACER PLUS with Australia. We are not focusing on our strengths."

John Salong.