Vanuatu Papua new GuineaThe Vanuatu Papua New Guinea
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PNG says no, Fiji warm, Vanuatu indecisive
For about eight years the legislative documents were negotiated to decide what the Pacific FreeTrade Agreement would contain. With the best interests of all archipelagos and the two major rich nations, Australia and New Zealand, the whole concept was to provide employment, improve the standard of living and promote sustained indigenous economies.
All of the Pacific Islands Forum's members' Ministries of Commerce discussed the definitive text and held their discussions at the political level. Vanuatu has an interesting point of departure. It is a request to suspend any decisions until there were more workers' representatives at last week's New Zealand ministerial and civil servants' meeting.
Before that, Papua New Guinea announced its resignation from the treaty. Mr Vanuatu wants all members of the administration to read the entire text before deciding whether or not to join. The Council of Ministers' resolution two weeks ago said exactly that when Sumbue Antas, the head of negotiations, passed on the draft versions of some of the documents to the then-managers.
MEPs have never seen the text of these commercial documents before they were initialled by commercial officers and then by the relevant ministers. At that point, the probability of Vanuatu acceding to the World Economic Organization had risen to eleven hours. Ralph Regenvanu, a Member of Parliament, rejected WTO membership, and that resulted in his dismissal from the state.
PACER-Plus, the Council of Ministers is now putting major topics such as this into context better. This negotiation should provide an occasion to help the Pacific Islands Forum to take advantage of increased local commercial and industrial cohesion. A freelance reporter, Bob Makin writes for Vanuatu Daily Post and Vanuatu Daily Digest.