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Pacific trade talks 'waste of time' says PNG minister

SAMISONI PARETI | ABC

Melanesian Spearhead Group trade ministers meet in Fiji (Samisoni Pareti)OFFICIALS FROM PAPUA NEW GUINEA say they are considering withdrawing from free trade negotiations between Pacific Island countries and Australia and New Zealand.

PNG's Trade Minister, Richard Maru, today told a meeting of trade ministers from the Melanesian Spearhead Group that his country was considering withdrawing from Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) negotiations.

"My country is not interested in PACER Plus, our focus is the MSG Trade Agreement," Minister Maru told a press conference convened at the end of the meeting at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa in Nadi.

Fifteen countries are involved in the PACER negotiations, with the aim of helping Pacific Islands Forum countries benefit from enhanced regional trade and economic integration.

Asked whether PNG would withdraw immediately from PACER Plus negotiation talks, Mr Maru said the matter is under serious review by PNG's government.

"Our feelings at the moment is that PACER Plus would be one sided in favour of Australia and New Zealand," he said.

"We are frustrated with them. We can't export our taro there, they wont accept our greens.

"There's nothing to be gained from a trade agreement at the moment. We cannot justify the huge amount of resources we expend on such negotiations. They are a complete waste of time."

Asked for Fiji's position on PNG's stand, the country's Minister for Trade and Attorney General, Mr Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, said Fiji sees a lot of merit in PNG's position.

He said Melanesian countries need to consolidate their trading capacities first before they look at free trade pacts with their bigger neighbours.

Comments

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Dennis Uramani

I think its about time the Pacific Island countries have to take their own stand in helping themselves rather that depending on Australia and New Zealand.
We have to help one and other using our vast natural resources to enhance economic growth and development with in the region following our own developments path ways.

Leonard Roka

I believe you are now having some sense of responsibility in designing your own path of development and partners in trade, politics, economics and everything is ours.

Keep moving your way. Right way to work.

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