Fiji ready to stymie free trade agreement
WEDNESDAY, 05 AUGUST 2009 CAIRNS (Pacnews) — Fiji may derail one of Australia’s key policy objectives at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting that opens in Cairns today, even though Fiji strongman Commodore Frank Bainimarama will not be present, reports Canberra Times
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his New Zealand counterpart John Key have been planning to use the Forum meeting to launch a new round of free trade negotiations to build on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade the “PACER Plus’” negotiations are intended to produce “a unique agreement, with trade capacity building and trade development assistance to strengthen Pacific island countries’ ability to trade”.
The department said PACER Plus would provide a framework for greater trade and economic integration between the countries of the Pacific with consequent benefits for the region and Australian business.
“Australia’s primary motivation in supporting PACER Plus is to help the Forum Island countries to promote sustainable economic development. We nonetheless expect that improved market access may enhance some opportunities for Australian exporters, investors and service providers in Pacific markets”
Currently suspended from participation in the Pacific Islands Forum, the Fiji Government wrote to all parties of the PACER Agreement in June indicating that the Forum members were neglecting their obligations to Fiji by not including Fiji in discussions concerning extending PACER to the new free trade agreement PACER Plus. Fiji indicated that any discussions at the Cairns Forum meeting on PACER Plus that excluded Fiji would be invalid.
Commodore Bainimarama’s administration has enlisted the support of the Solomon Islands and other members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu). In mid-July the Spearhead Group issued a communiqué that read in part that: “Leaders recognized Fiji’s right to participate in regional trade and economic cooperation agreements … The exclusion of Fiji from discussion of these agreements would be invalid and therefore the decisions pertaining to those agreements would be null and void”’
Last week, Solomon Islands Trade Minister William Haomae circulated a letter to all PACER parties, expressing formal support for Fiji’s insistence that negotiations could not legitimately proceed without its participation. Fiji has invoked the dispute clause of a 2001 PACER agreement deal, while Australia insists the PACER Plus negotiations are entirely separate.
In May, after the suspension of Fiji’s constitution, the Pacific Islands Forum suspended Fiji’s membership as it had threatened months before if Fiji had not scheduled elections by that date. The 2009 suspension was the first time a country had been suspended from the Forum in the organization’s 38-year history.
The prospect that progress towards a PACER Plus agreement may be delayed has been welcomed by a number of Pacific unions, churches and civil society groups which have argued the negotiations should not commence until 2013.
The non-government organizations say Australia and New Zealand are using their dominant regional position to push negotiations forward in their own interest and they want an extended delay so the Pacific peoples can be properly consulted about the implications of further trade liberalization.
Pacific Network on Globalization coordinator Maureen Penjueli said yesterday Pacific Island countries should “redress the compromises they have been bullied into” by supporting Fiji’s call for a moratorium on PACER decisions until Fiji’s exclusion was addressed.
Isa! So Vore and his tinpot regime want to play a game of ‘It’s Invalid Therefore All Agreements Are Null And Void‘?
Great! Well, since his regime is COMPLETELY ILLEGAL, then that means that all decisions OmniVore has made since seizing power from our democratically elected government are also NULL AND VOID.
That means the sale of our embassy in New York is NULL AND VOID.
That means all of Vore’s illegal backpay is NULL AND VOID.
The purchase of the land for a new embassy in India is NULL AND VOID.
The 55-year mandatory retirement age is NULL AND VOID.
The awarding of contracts to the Chinese government are all NULL AND VOID.
… Feel free to add your own items to this list, readers, because the list goes on … and on … and on …. Every single decision and decree by this illegal regime is, clearly, NULL AND VOID.
Don’t try to threaten legitimate governments with the accusation of invalidity, Vore. Everyone knows that when it comes to being invalid, you are the undisputed king of the (stinking) heap.
God bless Fiji