PM wary of free trade deals

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PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has told Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG) leaders that free trade agreements need to be carefully considered before they are signed and committed to.
O’Neill, who took over this week as MSG chairman from Solomon Islands counterpart Rick Houenipwela, told The National that Papua New Guinea was yet to sign up.
He said there were domestic trade issues that needed to be sorted out first before signing.
O’Neill was responding to queries on the need for a free trade framework within the region that would represent all MSG member nations. “Trade discussions are very sensitive issues and we have no difficulties whatsoever with the Melanesia Spearhead Group member countries in that respect,” he said.
“We do have issues with countries who have signed up with Pacer Plus. PNG and Fiji are the only two countries that have not signed up to that.
“That arrangement also has some implications to PNG and I want to make sure that those issues are cleared properly before we sign.
“However, we have given a commitment that we will sign the free trade agreement between Melanesia and will do that.”
While opening the summit, O’Neill said the MSG had made inroads into sub-regional trade.
“The signing of the free trade agreement by some of our member countries is a milestone achievement,” he said.

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