Churches warn on work plan

PACIFIC non government organisations, churches and unions have warned Pacific leaders to be wary that a new seasonal workers' scheme could be used as a bargaining chip to enter free trade negotiations.

Pacific civil society organisations meeting in Auckland last week called on Australia and NZ to do more to help the Pacific improve its trade opportunities without pressuring them into a new free trade agreement (FTA).

Pacific Conference of Churches general secretary Fei Tevi said trade could promote development.

But he warned Australia and NZ had only one trade model for the Pacific. "That model, of a new WTO compatible with FTAs with Australia and NZ could be potentially disastrous for the Pacific, said Mr Tevi.

"Even supporters of a new FTA acknowledge there will be high costs like job losses and reductions in government revenue.

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