NZ trade minister delays trip to Fiji
Trade Minister Todd McClay is delaying a trip to Fiji for talks about the Pacer Plus trade agreement, citing Fiji's changing position on the deal as the reason.
After seven years of negotiation and a recent round of talks in Christchurch the final Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations agreement is close, Mr McClay says.
However, a Fiji government statement last week said they had issues with some of the outcomes agreed by all Pacific Island countries at the recent trade ministers meeting in Christchurch, says Mr McClay.
"Having carefully considered their recent statement, I will not be travelling to Fiji this week for bilateral trade discussions but look forward to visiting when issues have been resolved," he says.
More discussions are now needed between officials.
The legal text of the agreement was agreed in Christchurch last month and ministers agreed to conclude remaining market access negotiations by the end of October and sign the agreement by the end of this year.
At the meeting New Zealand and Australia announced a joint funding package worth AU$7.7 million (NZ$8 million) to help Pacific Island countries benefit from the deal.
Mr McClay said on Sunday that Pacer Plus will be a high quality agreement which provides opportunities for all Pacific nations and one that recognises the individual developing nature of their economies.
New Zealand, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, are involved in the initiative.
Talks started in August 2009. They included negotiations over sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, customs procedures, rules of origin, trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and development co-operation, and labour mobility.
Authorities in Fiji on Saturday detained the leaders of two opposition parties and a senior trade union official after they took part in an event critical of the Pacific island nation's constitution, an opposition party official said.