16 Mar 2009

Govt misleading public over WTO accession, says Vanuatu policy analyst

8:12 pm on 16 March 2009

A Vanuatu policy analyst John Salong claims the government is misleading the country about the need to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Vanuatu recently re-entered negotiations for its accession to the WTO.

The Trade Minister James Bule says it's imperative for Vanuatu to follow in the footsteps of other Melanesian countries who are already members of the WTO.

Additionally, the Finance Minister Sela Molisa said that if Vanuatu was a WTO member, one of the benefits would have been that it could have sued France and Germany for unfair treatment over the Kava ban placed in Europe.

However John Salong says 80 percent of ni-Vanuatu survive on the custom economy and so-called "free trade" deals offer them little.

"And the difficulty is to understand what we will be gaining. The Finance Minister said that it would have been possible to take certain countries to the WTO courts because of the kava ban. But Fiji was part of the WTO, why didn't it take these countries (to court)? It also lost money because of the kava ban."

John Salong