6 Aug 2009

Tonga says there is no pressure for Pacer Plus deal

3:09 pm on 6 August 2009

Tonga's Prime Minister says Australia and New Zealand are not pressuring smaller Pacific nations into signing up to a regional free trade deal.

The formal negotiations on the agreement known as Pacer PLUS were expected to be launched at this week's Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns, but the question of Fiji's involvement and reluctance from some of the smaller states may see it stalled.

But Tonga's Dr Feleti Sevele says his country is ready, and knows what it wants.

"Australia and New Zealand are not pressuring us. It's very patronising and condescending to say that we don't know what we want. So let's go to the table, lets start negotiations and see what comes out."

Dr Feleti Sevele says he has no doubt that if countries don't feel ready to start negotiations, they will speak out.