SYDNEY, 22 DECEMBER 2017 (KANIVA TONGA NEWS) — Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper shows the South Pacific’s largest economy is committed to helping small island states like Tonga, according to Pacific Trade Invest (PTI).

PTI is an agency of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.


PTI said the Pacer Plus agreement, which was signed in Tonga earlier this year, would be the key body for promoting stronger trade and investment in the region.

Pacer Plus was signed by Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Pacific’s two largest Island economies, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, pulled out before the signing.

Australia would also look at creating more opportunities for islanders to work across the region.

The PTI report said the Australian Government would focus on economic growth, security, fisheries and building more resilient communities in the Pacific nations.

“The white paper recognises the growth restraints faced by the Pacific region, including remoteness from markets, limited land and resource bases, the dispersal of people over many islands and environmental fragility,” the PTI said.

It said Australia’s policy on the Pacific had three priorities.

These were greater integration with the Australian and New Zealand economies, tackling security challenges with a focus on maritime issues and strengthening personal links, skills and leadership.

Australia has budgeted AUD$1097.8 million (US$845 million) for the Pacific, of which AUD$15.4 million (US411.8 million) has been earmarked for infrastructure and trade….PACNEWS [/restrict]