REGIONAL trade agreements have the potential to enhance trade and deepen economic integration in the Pacific but these agreements need to be updated and effectively implemented to have any positive effect or make a real difference to economies in the region.
These were the words of Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum as he challenged entrepreneurs and representatives from various island nations at the official launch of Trade Pasifika 2012 on Monday to work cohesively towards managing effective trade agreements.
"It is futile to strive to be internationally competitive when we penalise and impose barriers on our own regional producers. For example, protective clothing that is in demand by Papua New Guinea's booming mining industry is made in Fiji, yet sourced indirectly from Australia because Fijian garments are on the negative list of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade agreement," he said.
"Trade and market access agreements have the potential to enhance regional trade and deepen economic integration. Regional trade agreements such as the MSGTA and the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) were initiated precisely for this purpose, however, to date there have been minimal efforts to implement the commitments outlined under these agreements. Nor has there been any attempt to address inherent weaknesses in these agreements such as the discriminatory and restrictive nature of the negative list," the AG added.