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PRESS STATEMENT February 28, 2001


A Working Party of senior trade officials from the 16-member Pacific Islands Forum has ended its two-day meeting in Nadi, Fiji.

The Working Party met to discuss an architecture for including Australia and New Zealand in a Forum wide trade agreement. It recommended that this be done through an 'Umbrella Agreement'.

The Umbrella Agreement would set the foundation for current and future trade and economic cooperation amongst Forum members. It would aim to encourage consultation, transparency, and fairness in its implementation, and would be designed to allow for maximum flexibility in future developments.

The Umbrella Agreement would not be a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), but would allow for the conclusion of such agreements between members. The Working Party also recommended that in the first instance, in parallel with the Umbrella Agreement negotiation, the Forum Island Countries (FICs) would continue with their negotiation of a FIC FTA.

The senior Forum trade officials will meet again in late April to consider the draft legal texts of both the Umbrella Agreement and the FIC FTA.

It is envisaged that draft texts will be presented to the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting in June and Forum Leaders in August, at their meeting in Nauru.

For additional information, contact: Ulafala Aiavao at 

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