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Australian ministers discuss Pacific free trade deal in Vanuatu

Australia Network News

Australian ministers discuss Pacific free trade deal in Vanuatu

By Alain Simeon, Port Vila

2 April 2009

Vanuatu’s government has indicated its support for a proposed regional free trade deal between Australia, New Zealand and the wider Pacific region.

Australia’s trade minister, Simon Crean, is on a one-day trip to Vanuatu to discuss the so-called Pacer Plus agreement with representatives of the country’s government.

He says Pacific Island countries have more to gain from the arrangement than Australia, which already has the advantage of high trade surplus.

Speaking at a press conference earlier, Mr Crean says his government’s priority is ensuring economic stability in the region.

"The important thing for us is to develop an economic, sustainable base for the region within the region," he said.

"The bigger problem for us is if countries within the region fail.

"Thats the bigger problem, because that will be a much more costly exercise."

The trade minister will follow-up his visit to Vanuatu with trips to New Zealand, Tonga and Solomon Islands in a push to garner additional support for Pacer Plus.