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A-G questions agreement merits

Fiji Times

A-G questions agreement merits

By Margaret Wise

21 June 2011

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has questioned the merits of trade agreements that serve to benefit the economically powerful more than developing economies.

He told a gathering of business people from the region that any regional economic integration effort must benefit the weakest party in the agreement the most.

The Pacific Regional Business Conference in Nadi yesterday was attended by dignitaries, chief executive officers and business people from the private and public sectors from across the region.

The meeting was called mainly to discuss the potential and challenges of the PACER Plus, a trade agreement launched in 2009 by Pacific island leaders.

"An agreement where an already economically mighty partner gains more than those still striving to develop their economies defies not only logic, but is also contrary to the objective and principles of the World Trade Organisation and the multilateral trading system that strives to encourage free and fair trade as a tool to alleviate poverty," said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

He said the forum provided an immense opportunity to examine existing and future opportunities in our markets, as well as examine how business can be improved and increased within existing arrangements.

The onus, he said, was both on governments and businesses to use existing opportunities to the optimum and to develop and take advantage of new prospects and learning from shortcomings in the past.

"We have a number of key regional and sub-regional trade agreements within the region that are relevant to the audience, chief among which are the Pacific Islands Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) and the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement (MSGTA)," he said.