pacific church council backs debate

pacific church council backs debate


For immediate release
May 20 2005


It is time that important agreements such as economic partnership and trade agreements are discussed at all levels and not be reserved "for the experts only" as they affect the lives of everyone said two non-governmental organisations.

According to the World Council of Churches (WCC) Office the Pacific and the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), "The Economic Partnership Agreement and PACER and PICTA are mechanisms that will affect the lives of all Pacific Islanders and as such they are important issues that need to be discussed at all levels."

WCC's Office in the Pacific's Executive Secretary Fe'iloakitau Kaho Tevi said the churches in the Pacific are now called to respond to the consequences of global economic policies that marginalize and exclude more Pacific Islanders than ever before.

Referring to Professor Jane Kelsey's report "A People's Guide to the Pacific's Economic Partnership Agreement" which was commissioned by the WCC Office in the Pacific, Tevi said the study hopes to bring such broad sweeping concepts to a level that is understandable to all in the hope that discussion is generated at all levels and that an increasing number of Pacific Islanders understand the trade negotiations and multilateral trade agreements our governments are signing up to on our behalf.

"More importantly, it is our hope that this study will bring people together to live and advocate for a more just economic system that is more viable and more sustainable for all, and that does not and will not create second class citizens," he said.

PANG Interim Coordinator Shelly Rao said the release of this report was timely as Pacific ACP Ministers and Trade Ministers meet in Nadi from 23-27 May 2005 to discuss important issues such as investment, tourism and fisheries. "Most Pacific Islanders are not aware about the consequences of such agreements. We do our best to raise awareness on such issues but this report is a great awareness tool as it dissects such agreements" she said.

Professor Jane Kelsey who is a Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, New Zealand will be launching her report in Nadi on Monday 23 May 2005. She is also the author of the interim report entitled Big Brothers Behaving Badly: The Implications for the Pacific Islands of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) and the final report A People's Guide to PACER, produced for PANG in 2004. She is a board member of the Action, Research and Education Network of Aotearoa (ARENA)

For more information please contact Mr Fei Tevi e-mail: Ph: (679) 3317 509 or Shelly Rao Ph: (679) 3316 722/ 9932 313