28 Jan 2010

Academic calls for Fiji to rejoin PACER process

3:32 pm on 28 January 2010

An Australian academic is calling for PACER-related sanctions against Fiji to be relaxed in an effort to restore harmony in the region.

Fiji was excluded from events linked to the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations after it was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum last May for its interim regime reneging on a promise to relinquish power by holding elections.

Professor Richard Herr who holds posts at both the University of Fiji and the University of Tasmania was commissioned to write a report on the issue by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

He says Australia, which is the Forum chair, should change its stance on Fiji.

"Fiji never needed to be excluded from that. I don't think excluding it from the Forum was a good idea, but if that exclusion was there, it could have been kept at the political level, at the ministerial level, the technical level developments might have continued. It was an unnecessary irritant. That might in fact be relaxed to the relief of all of the Pacific Islands involved with PACER and PACER Plus."

Professor Herr says if Fiji is re engaged it could help boost the regional economy.

Earlier this month the Fiji government said it would be seeking redress of its exclusion from the group through the Vienna Convention.