Friday, 30 November 2007 2:10 PM

Solomons Agrees to Negotiate Interim Agreement

Solomon Islands will not sign an interim Agreement if Pacific-ACP countries fail to complete negotiations of the European Partnership Agreement by the end of December.

Speaking in a press conference, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Patteson Oti, said it is critical for the country to take a thorough assessment whether to sign the Interim agreement now or at a later date.

"We should not be rushed or influenced by either regional solidarity or integration to sign any agreement that may prove disadvantageous to our development," Mr. Oti stated.

He stressed on the need to "carefully assess the current benefits which the country is offered as a [Least Developed Country] by existing trade and economy reciprocal and non-reciprocal arrangements, taking into account the whole trade organization rules which have strong bearing on trade arrangements, which we may conclude with other parties".

The Foreign Minister said that with the delaying of the signing, this will allow them to further assess the benefits and impact on the economic partnership agreement (EPA).

Mr. Oti said that Solomon Islands exports to European Union are protected under various programmes made available especially for Least Developed Countries under international organisations.

Mr Oti says of greater importance is the anticipated free trade arrangements with Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific countries of which the Solomon Islands is seriously considering.