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SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, May 28) – Fiji is set to negotiate new bilateral economic partnership agreements with India, Malaysia and Indonesia, says the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Foreign Affairs Chief Executive Isikeli Mataitoga revealed this at the 50th annual Fiji Law Society Convention held at the Shangri-La's Fijian Resort in Sigatoka yesterday.

Speaking on the impacts of regional trade agreements on business Mr Mataitoga said trade agreements secure Fiji's future in an increasingly globalised world economy.

He said the extension of Fiji's bilateral relations through trade agreements with Asian countries was part of an ambitious bilateral trading agenda and the Government's Look North policy.

This policy is aimed at securing market access in Asian countries and it has already signed five trade agreements with China early this year.

"The developments will be parallel to the regional and multilateral arrangements that Fiji will also be engaged with. This is not to say that the negotiations will be easy; but that the benefits are there to gain," Mr Mataitoga said.

He said international and regional trade agreements are able to bring discipline and add an element of certainty and discipline to the conduct on international commerce.

Fiji ratified a number of international and regional trade agreements after it joined the World Trade Organisation.

Some of the agreements are the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Trade Agreement, the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA).

Mr Mataitoga said by 2011, Fiji will be party to three regional trade agreements, namely the MSG, PICTA and the Economic Partnership Agreement which is being negotiated with the EU.

A fourth agreement called the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) would be negotiated with Australia and New Zealand.

May 29, 2006

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