SECOND NEGOTIATING MEETING:

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PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT Suva, Fiji Islands

PRESS STATEMENT April 27, 2001

PACIFIC REGIONAL TRADE AGREEMENT (PARTA) STARTS MONDAY

The Second Negotiating Meeting for the proposed Pacific Regional Trade Agreement (PARTA) will be held at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva April 30 - May 3, 2001.

The Meeting will involve senior trade officials from the 16 Pacific Island Forum Member Countries who will negotiate the proposed final legal texts of the Umbrella Agreement and the Forum Island Country-Free Trade Area (FIC-FTA).

This will include negotiation of the schedules of liberalization, negative lists and rules of origin under the FIC-FTA legal text.

The Umbrella Agreement is a trade and economic cooperation agreement between the Forum Island Countries and Australia and New Zealand. The FIC-FTA will establish a free trade area among the 14 Forum Island Countries, following a transition period of 10 years.

Officials will also consider recommendations on Trade Facilitation and the proposed structure for the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting scheduled to be held June 27 - 29, 2001.

The establishment of the free trade area among the FICs reflects the region's desire for a stepping stone approach for integration into the global economy.

The final Umbrella Agreement and FIC-FTA draft legal texts that will be recommended from this meeting will be forwarded to the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting in June and to Leaders at the Forum Meeting in Nauru for their endorsement.

The Pacific Regional Trade Agreement is scheduled to commence in January 2002.

For additional information, contact: Ulafala Aiavao at UlafalaA@forumsec.org.fj 

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