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Key Pacific trade talks open in Australia

ABC Radio Australia
Last Updated: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 16:41:00 +1100

Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean says he wants to ensure that the proposed "PACER-plus" trade agreement with the Pacific Islands provids the basis for long-term sustainablilty in the region.

Mr Crean was speaking at the opening of a two-day meeting on Pacific trade in the South Australian capital city of Adelaide.

The meeting has brought together trade officials to discuss a roadmap for negotiations for the proposed PACER-plus agreement.

Mr Crean says the aim of PACER-plus is to build economic sustainability and to place a priority on capacity-building.

"There's not much point convincing countries that they've got to embrace trade liberalisation if they haven't got the capacity to take advantage of it," he told the ABC.

"And we know that there are many countries within the Pacific that do need to have their infrastructure, their skill base, for example, built if they are to take advantage and be competitive into the longer term."

Mr Crean says he wants to hear from Pacific officials about issues of local importance across the region.

He says discussions so far have been good and frank and that, despite some differences, problems identified so far can be dealt with.

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