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Give PACER a chance, says Tonga Trade Minister

Radio New Zealand International

Give PACER a chance, says Tonga Trade Minister

3 April 2009

Tonga’s Trade Minister says it’s unfair for people to criticise the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations or PACER PLUS until it is properly implemented.

Lisete Akuola is due to meet his Australian counterpart Simon Crean today in Nuku’alofa for talks on the proposed regional free trade deal between Australia, New Zealand and the wider Pacific region.

Mr Crean is in Tonga as part of a six-day tour around the Pacific which also includes stops in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Samoa and New Zealand.

The Pacific Network on Globalisation has accused Australia of bullying Island countries into accepting the revamped PACER framework.

But Mr Akuola says Mr Crean is genuine in his intent to mould a free trade agreement that takes individual circumstances of Island countries into account.

“Because you know, there are a lot of opportunities there and until we get into the nitty-gritty of negotiations I think there’s been a lot of speculations and pre-judgements that may not reflect, in all fairness, what PACER Plus has to offer.”