Help PMA grow | Petition forms | Site map | PMA main page
Pacific Free Trade Area
16 August 2001
Pacific Network on Globalisation's (PANG) Statement on the Pacific Free Trade Area Agreement (PARTA).
More discussion needed on PARTA
The Pacific Islands Forum must not endorse and agree to the Pacific Free Trade Area Agreement (PARTA) until the issue has been addressed and debated in respective Parliaments of Forum Island Countries.
The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), a coalition of non-government and civil society organizations including church groups in the Pacific working on globalisation issues has expressed concern that the Pacific leaders will endorse a Free Trade Area without adequate public debate and discussion within their countries.
PANG maintained that the process towards the establishment of PARTA contravened the Forum's commitment to principles of good governance, transparency and accountability. "Only last year at the Forum meeting in Kiribati, leaders committed themselves to the Biketawa Declaration with one of the foremost aims being: "Commitment to good governance which is the exercise of authority (leadership) and interactions in a manner that is open, transparent, accountable, participatory, consultative and decisive but fair and equitable".
"But negotiations on what is involved in the Free Trade Area has not been done in a transparent nor accountable manner, and many leaders have not brought the agreement to Parliament for debate, nor raised the issue publicly for the people to discuss and raise alternative views," the PANG statement said.
"Since 1999 when negotiations on PARTA began, public debate and discussion on the PARTA issue region-wide in the media, in public seminars or in Parliament has been largely non-existent. Reports on the issues have been limited to Forum Secretariat media releases, largely on the negotiations being conducted by the governments, and speeches by the Forum Secretary General about why a free trade area is needed".
"The Free Trade Area is a significant development with considerable consequences that could be both positive and negative. Therefore it should be widely and adequately debated and discussed before being agreed upon."
"Decisions made by leaders in which the people are not consulted or not involved in, will only lead to problems in the future. A lot of the 'crises' currently experienced in the Pacific stems from the folly of leaders making decisions that impact on people's lives, while the people who will be affected remain unaware," the PANG statement said.
PANG expressed concern that the statements of the Secretary-General of the Forum Secretariat regarding PARTA placed considerable emphasis on the region's need to "respond adequately to the demands of the global economy" and less emphasis on people's participation, or the socio-economic and environmental effects it will have on them.