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Palau president doubts free trade push

ABC Radio Australia

Palau president doubts free trade push

11 July 2007

Palau’s president, Tommy Remengesau, believes the Pacific Islands Forum - comprising 16 independent countries of the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand - is introducing free trade into the region in the wrong way.

The president officially opened the forum’s economic ministers meeting in Koror Wednesday.

President Remengesau says an impact study on the Pacific Islands Closer Trade Agreement should be done first before forum member countries are asked to sign up.

Our correspondent in Palau, Samisoni Pareti, says the president has stated that as a small island nation, import tax revenue is important for Palau.

In addition, Palau does not have a lot of products to export, nor a surplus of skilled labour to market overseas.

Palau wants to participate in trade initiatives, President Remengesau says, but only if they will bring benefits to their people.

Greg Urwin, secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, raised the possibility the ministers reviewing the issues they have on their agenda.

He also implied the need to translate words into actions.