Is Free Trade a Wayforward?

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AS GLOBALISATION brings real economic challenges home and abroad, the leaders around the pacific region are searching for durable economic solutions to elevate and consolidate the small and vulnerable economies in this economical challenging times. So, Is free trade a way forward for that durable economic solution for the pacific nations and in particular our country Solomon Islands? It has known that the pacific island trade ministers are gearing up for what some termed it as a big year for trade negotiations in the pacific region. This year 2009 we'll see our nation Solomon Islands will be among other pacific island countries to negotiate some major development in trade agreements in the pacific region.

In this discussion I will argue that although free trade is said to be the engine for growth, a better way of achieving economic and social development and poverty eradication for the developing and participating countries, the realities behind it is still a mounting hostility with the process it self, especially by the millions around the world who have been thrown into poverty by market liberalizations from free trade agreements. Then I will also discuss some examples on the effects of free trade, as it will provide evidence to our people that free trade practices do not assist in closing economic gaps, but rather they assist in making these gaps wider. And also I will touch a little bit on the key players involve in free trade negotiations. Lastly in this discussion I will express in brief my personal view on this topic "Is free trade a way forward for Solomon Islands? Before going further into this discussion I want to provide to our citizens the free trade negotiations that Solomon Islands is currently negotiating with the EU, Australia, New Zealand and other pacific island nations. From my general understanding on this issue of trade negotiations in the pacific region, there are three major free trade negotiations facing the pacific island countries (PICs) including our very own country Solomon Islands and they are: - Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relation ( PACER- plus) - The Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) and

- Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) - A Free Trade Agreement with European Union (EU). For the understanding sake about these three free trade negotiations, I will in brief elaborate on some basic and fundamental ideas and objectives behind these trade negotiations that we Solomon Islands citizens should have some fair ideas about.

Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relation (PACER - plus) Done at Nauru, 18th August 2001, PACER is a framework agreement that establishes the guidelines for the future development of trade relation among the 14 forum island countries (FICs) and with our two developed country members of the pacific island forum, Australia and New Zealand. One of the PACER -plus 's objective is that - the FICs wish to establish a framework for the gradual trade and economic integration of the economies of the forum members in a way that is fully supportive to sustainable development of the forum island countries and to contribute to their gradual and progressive integration into the international economy.

The Pacific Island countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) PICTA is the first agreement to be established under PACER - plus. PICTA is a Free Trade Agreement among the FICs, which aims to gradually reduce import duties on goods that originate from the member countries. Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu have ratified PICTA.

Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) - A Free -Trade Agreement with the European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is the agreement currently negotiating to replace the original trade chapter of the Cotonou Agreement signed between Europe and the Pacific for trade and development over 30 years- and its objective and purpose is to promote regional...
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