The chief trade advisor for the Pacific Island Forum countries says a proposed regional free trade agreement is not under threat after Fiji’s reported withdrawal.
On Friday, Fiji’s trade minister, Faiyaz Koya, said his country was withdrawing from negotiations for PACER-Plus, citing inflexibility from Australia and New Zealand.
Fiji’s withdrawal would mean the Pacific’s two largest economies outside of New Zealand and Australia – Fiji and Papua New Guinea – would not be included in the deal.
Vanuatu had also recently expressed dissatisfaction.
But Edwini Kessie said the remaining issues were not serious, and he believed a deal could still be reached – with Fiji included.
“Trade negotiations are always very controversial. As we say, trade is not a zero-sum game, it involves all the parties making sacrifices and I don’t think the remaining issues are very difficult and I’m hopeful we should be able to reach an agreement which will serve the interests of the forum countries very well, ” said Edwini Kessie.