NO to Pacific-US trade pact

PNG accuses Forum of ‘misleading’ island nations

HOPES for a free trade agreement between the islands of the Pacific and the United States were not enthusiastically embraced by senior officials of the American State Department who insisted that the country’s existing Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is adequately meeting the trade needs of the US with the islands. “Right now to be honest, our hands are full with the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Trans Atlantic Partnership negotiations in terms of formal trade arrangements,” visiting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Tong told this magazine late last month.

“So at this point we have come to this forum to learn more about some of these ideas that are being proposed and give it all very careful thought.” Tong visited Fiji last month to attend the Pacific Island Countries – United States of America regional workshop on trade, investment and private sector development that the American State Department financed.

Public and private sector officials from Forum member countries attended the weeklong workshop. Tong’s less than enthusiastic support for a free trade agreement between the Pacific and the US was echoed by the Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Drew Quinn who addressed the workshop through a telephone tie in. Quinn believed any growth in trade between the two regions could be accommodated by the existing GSP.

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