Forum Island Countries not ready for negotiations with Australia, NZ

17:57, August 09, 2010      

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The Pacific Island Forum Countries chief trade adviser on PACER Plus, Chris Noonan, has said most Forum Island Countries (FICs) are not ready to begin negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.

And, he admits that FIC's trade officials do not have the capacity and expertise to sit across the table from Australia and New Zealand and confidently articulate their national interests, the Suva-based regional news agency Pacnews reported on Monday.

Noonan said this was evident at the first round of negotiations in April this year in Port Vila.

FICs have real capacity constraints to go ahead with the negotiations. They need more time to consult and think of what their national priorities are under PACER Plus, he said.

The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus is a regional trade agreement involving the Pacific countries and Australia and New Zealand, having excluded Fiji because of the political situation in the island country.

Noonan, who has set up office in Port Vila in Vanuatu, said as it stands, the 14 Forum Island Countries will "inevitably have a longer time frame than Australia and New Zealand in the PACER Plus negotiations."

Source: Xinhua


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