BE MORE FLEXIBLE ON WORLD TRADE RULES AND AID: FORUM SECRETARY-GENERAL LEVI

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TO APEC

SUVA, Fiji (Oct. 23, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---More flexibility is needed in the way world trade rules are applied to small economies, says Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Noel Levi.

Levi was speaking on the eve of the 14th APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Ministerial meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, which the Forum will attend as an observer.

Levi also appealed for the relaxation of good governance conditions on the delivery of aid to help small economies meet national development priorities.

APEC's members include three Forum members: Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

"While the benefits of globalization are being highlighted by developed countries, the small economies have yet to see these benefits," Levi said in a statement.

Levi said placing conditions on aid, and tying it to progress on measures such as good governance, presented small economies with yet another hurdle to try and overcome.

"I am not suggesting that we support administrations that demonstrate bad governance," Levi said. "But it is important to untie aid to small economies to help them meet their national development priorities."

Speaking on the issue of security, he said "the recent bombing in Bali, Indonesia, reinforces the need for better collaboration amongst the APEC community, including its three observers.

"This should involve the exchange of intelligence as well as technical assistance in law enforcement."

Levi said the Forum continued to make progress in dealing with the impacts of globalization.

The World Trade Organization-compatible Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) was expected to come into force by the end of this year.

The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER), an economic cooperation agreement for all 16 Pacific Forum Members including Australia and New Zealand, has already come into force.

Both APEC and the Forum have overlaps in some areas of interest, the Forum Secretariat statement said.

These include the regional Free Trade Area under PICTA which parallels APEC's trade liberalization agenda.

The APEC Multilateral Agreement for Liberalization of International Air Transport also has clear implications for the Forum's own Pacific Islands Air Services Agreement.

Samoa is the first non-APEC country to accede to the APEC aviation agreement and other Forum Islands Countries are showing interest.

Forum Leaders recently approved the Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Policy, aimed at better management and sustainable use of the ocean's resources.

The objectives of the regional policy are somewhat similar to APEC's initiatives on marine resource conservation.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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