2 Oct 2012

Sale of Pacific Forum Line could halt shipping to small Pacific nations

4:54 am on 2 October 2012

A professor of development studies at the University of the South Pacific, Vijay Naidu, says if the Pacific Forum Line was sold, some shipping services to smaller Pacific nations could come to a halt.

The Pacific Forum Line was set up to offer economic development in the south pacific region, ensure regular shipping services and contain freight prices.

New Zealand's opposition foreign affairs spokesperson, Phil Goff, says he understands meetings have been taking place to finalise plans to sell the PFL to a New Zealand company, Sofrana.

Vijay Naidu says smaller countries and businesses have benefitted hugely from the Pacific Forum Line, but if it was privatised, operations would have to become more competitive.

He says larger ships will probably stop servicing the smaller islands.

"They would be a) a disruption of services, b) that there is a likelihood of an increase in the cost of shipping services for the smaller operators, the families, the small business and the small islands of the region."

Vijay Naidu says inter-island trade would also be negatively affected.