23 Mar 2009

Secretary-General of Pacific Forum backs the behaviour of New Zealand and Australia

6:00 am on 23 March 2009

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has rejected suggestions its work is unduly influenced by New Zealand and Australia.

The former Director of Economic Governance, Roman Grynberg, criticised the two countries for their treatment of smaller Pacific states, especially in making trade deals.

The Forum's Secretary-General, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, says he has seen no evidence of a heavy-handed or dominating approach to trade discussions.

He says New Zealand and Australia are considering a request to fund an office of a chief trade advisor so smaller nations can develop their own independent voice.

"Its a subject that's being discussed, at this stage informally and the details of proposals that have been made are under examination by the Forum countries. There is no finality and it's ongoing work."

Mr Slade says Dr Gynberg's criticisms lack substantiation and have had no impact on the Forum's work.