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Pacific Trade ministers have been challenged to chart a path for the region, in what’s described as a rapidly changing global landscape.
Pacific Island Forum members met in Suva Thursday and Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum advised them that the status quo has to change.
Sayed-Khaiyum has reinforced the same message as other officials this week, Asia is the way to go for Fiji and its neighbours.
He adds that while Australia and New Zealand will continue to be key partners, the imbalance in trade can’t be ignored.
“They have been good development partners but we also need to understand that the economic disparities between Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the Pacific Island countries is quite significant. It’s within that context that we need to expand these relationships”.
The Trade Ministers have to come up with a comprehensive plan to protect and grow the regional economy.
He also suggests finding solutions to labour mobility issues especially with Fiji having to import workers for many sectors.
Meanwhile, Pacific Trade Ministers concluded their meeting in Suva agreeing to a number of outcomes crucial to the further development of trade in the region.
Chair of the meeting, Fijian Minister for Industry, Trade, Premila Kumar said one of the overarching priorities they endorsed was the recognition that kava is an international commodity and there was an interest at both regional and international level to further develop the agriculture crop.
There was also agreement to endorse the aid for trade strategy which could be used by all island countries and their trading partners, to improve trade relations and lift trade to another level.
The leaders also endorsed the need for solidarity among the Pacific countries as they approach the upcoming World Trade Organisation Ministers conference in particular on the fisheries sector and surrounding issues that interest the region.
Pacific trade ministers also discussed how they could explore other trade arrangements beyond traditional boundaries and also emerging issues relating to trade.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/ FIJI GOVT/PACNEWS
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