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SPC chief rejects Pacific common market notion

The director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) says there is no place in the Pacific for "regional economic integration".

Colin Tukuitonga said creating a common market in the region would make small island nations give up their sovereignty and autonomy to a central entity.

Dr Tukuitonga said Pacific leaders should continue with sub-regional initiatives like the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and Polynesian Leaders Groups (PLG).

“I don't think efforts to try to pursue a common market [are] going to be worthwhile. I think we're better to continue with the work we've been doing - regional co-operation around different sectors like fisheries, like agriculture, like human rights, like gender.

“But in a co-operative way rather than trying to have everyone belong to one entity.”

Colin Tukuitonga said the Pacific had a long history of successful regional co-operation.

He said a common market in the Pacific would also see one currency, one set of rules - one governance arrangement – “a bit like the European Union”.

“Smaller island nations will be reluctant to fully participate,” he said.

“They will be fearful that they will be overwhelmed.

“They would have to cede their decision-making. I don't think there's enough trust. I don't think they are ready for that,” he said.

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