5 May 2009

NZ's Trade Minister says Auckland PACER PLUS talks will go ahead without Fiji.

10:18 am on 5 May 2009

The New Zealand Trade Minister, Tim Groser, says it is important planned discussions on Pacific Islands Forum trade agreements go ahead, despite the absence of Fiji.

Following its suspension at the weekend Fiji will not be represented at an informal meeting of Pacific Trade Ministers this weekend in Auckland where the expansion of the Pacific's Closer Economic Relations agreement, known as PACER Plus, will be discussed.

The NGO, Arena, which is opposed to the deal, says without one of the main trading nations in the Pacific, the talks are pointless, and should be called off.

But Mr Groser says negotiations will probably take years and there are hopes that full relations with Fiji will eventually be restored, allowing it to be re-included in Forum activities.

"Eventually - I don't see the way through now - we will find, New Zealand, Australia and the other members of the Forum that have suspended Fiji, will find a way of re-establishing our relationship in the long term. So this an agreement about that very long term."