23 Nov 2011

16 years of WTO deliberations come to head in Vanuatu

6:40 am on 23 November 2011

Sixteen years of negotiations come to a head in Vanuatu today as MPs vote in a crucial step towards membership of the World Trade Organisation.

The WTO has already approved Vanuatu's terms of accession and it's now up to parliament to ratify the process.

Sally Round reports.

"Vanuatu's long march towards joining the trade body has been marred by political instability, a lack of resources and, say accession critics, a lack of information and consultation by the government. Strong opposition has come from the country's Council of Churches and National Council of Chiefs as well as civil society groups. Our correspondent in Port Vila says most people in Vanuatu don't understand what the WTO is all about. He says some government ministers are expected to join twenty opposition members in opposing the bill but anti WTO protests are not expected after organisers were threatened with arrest as they tried to rally their supporters last week. The debate begins in parliament this afternoon."