Thursday, 28 August 2008 9:44 AM

Tongan to Represent Region at WTO

Paulo Kautoke from Tonga will represent the Pacific as the new Pacific Trade Representative at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

As reported by the Matangi Tonga Online, Mr. Kautoke will take up his new post on October 1st.
Mr. Kautoke 'has been the Secretary for Tonga's Ministry of Labour, Commerce and Industries since 1999, and was involved with Tonga's accession to the WTO on July 27, 2007'.
'He also worked with the negotiation of a number of trade agreements such as the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement PICTA, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations PACER and the Economic Partnerships Agreement EPA, between Pacific Islands Forum countries and the European Union'.

Commenting on European trade, Mr. Kautoke said that 'EPA negotiation is very difficult because the EU wanted free trade between EU countries and Pacific Island Forum countries, "but the problem is because we have very little to trade with Europe. When we are talking about trade, we are not talking only about goods, it also include services and investment. If we open up our market to the EU, they have a lot to trade with us, but we have very little to trade with them"'.

He added that negotiations 'had been further complicated because, "the Caribbean countries have signed a similar Free Trade Agreement with the EU, agreeing to all the things that we are still negotiating on; and secondly, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, have moved out and signed a free trade agreement with the EU, leaving the rest of the small island states to negotiate their own trade deal with the EU"'.

'The EPA negotiation will continue in Europe in September and the three issues that are paramount are the access fees to island states territorial waters, a Seasonal Workers scheme with the EU, similar to the one with New Zealand and Australia, and Aid for Trade'.