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Australia seeks equal trade rights in South Pacific

Radio Australia

Australia seeks equal trade rights in South Pacific

13 June 2007

Australia says it wants trade rights in the South Pacific equal to those being negotiated by the European Union.

The Australian Trade Minister, Warren Truss, says Australia and New Zealand will hold talks with the Pacific Islands on a free trade agreement at a meeting in Vanuatu in early August.

He says the Pacific Islands are already negotiating a free trade agreement with the European Union.

Mr Truss says the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) provides for further negotiations if the South Pacific seeks a discriminatory trade deal with any other state.

"This is a natural progression which was triggered, which was outlined in the original PACER agreement, and has been triggered by the discussions currently undertaken with the European Union," he said.

"And it’s obviously in Australia and New Zealand’s interest that any new deal that the South Pacific countries may do with the European Union doesn’t disadvantage Australian exporters into those countries."