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Unhappy over being locked out of meetings

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 30, 2009) - Fiji has not ruled out moving for the suspension of the entire Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) if signatories to it do not respond "in good faith" to its stated intention to suspend Part 2 of the Agreement.

This was revealed this weekend by state solicitor Luke Daunivalu, who said Government had taken steps to protect Fiji’s interest in light of continuing discussions and negotiations - minus Fiji - by parties to PACER and its subset PACER-Plus.

He was speaking at the 11th Attorney General’s conference held at the Warwick this weekend.

Fiji remains a suspended member of the Pacific Islands Forum and as such cannot participate in any Forum-related meetings or negotiations.

It had tried unsuccessfully to invoke Article 15 of the PACER treaty, which dealt with dispute resolution and required the response "in good faith" of PACER parties.

Out of the 11 parties, only one, Solomon Islands, responded.

Because the lack of clear provisions under PACER for further redress or remedy, Daunivalu said Fiji has had to rely on the International Convention on the Law of Treaties "which allows for the suspension either in whole or in part of a treaty which has been breached by the other parties."

Fiji exercised this right last month and declared its intention to suspend Part Two of PACER - of which the core component is PACER-Plus - as pressure from Australia and New Zealand mounted not only to divorce PACER-Plus from the original PACER but to begin negotiations on it by next year.

"Part Two has not been suspended yet but it is a natural justice step that has been taken. The intention to suspend will come into place 30 days from (October 22) and as you can see, 30 days has lapsed as on November 22," said Daunivalu.

"As of Wednesday this week, another letter has been sent to all the PACER parties essentially extending the intention to at least the end of the year, but rather than simply inviting them to respond, there’s a set out of clear steps of what Fiji expects from the other parties and including as part of the agenda, to facilitate the work of the secretariat. In the event where there is no response by the 21st of December, then certainly the likelihood of taking actual suspension steps of PACER will be considered," he added.

He said Fiji was concerned that it cannot take part in ongoing discussions on PACER-Plus as any outcome would definitely affect Fiji.

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