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Media Pasifica News Summary – 28 Oct. 2009

Media Pasifica News Summary – 28 Oct. 2009

Compiled by David Reade


PACIFIC countries' economic growth is forecast to slow to 3.1percent this year following last year's historical high of 5.1percent. It is against this background that the PACER Plus — Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations — negotiations are taking place this weekend in Brisbane and which could be crucial to development in the region says Oxfam in a new paper.

Fiji and Samoa had larger than expected contractions in gdp, and in the Solomon Islands the decreased demand for timber, combined with the depletion of forests, is contributing to a rapid decline in income and potential balance of payments crisis.

Fiji however has been excluded from the talks and the PIC 14 (Pacific Island Countries) does not include French Polynesia, American Samoa or Hawai'i.

Despite favourable trading arrangements under SPARTECA (South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement) the PICs have been unable to make the most of access to the Australian and New Zealand markets. By far the largest PIC exports to their two neighbours are from the extraction of Papua New Guinean oil and gold. With these two items excluded, PIC imports from Australia and New Zealand (US$1,905 million) far outweigh exports (US$332 million) by a factor of nearly six to one.17 This is of particular concern given that Australia and New Zealand are the most important trading partners for the region.

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A 2007 study by Nathan Associates commissioned by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat found that, for 10 of the 14 PICs, either Australia or New Zealand was the primary source of imports.

It is particularly striking that so few agricultural products are exported to Australia and New Zealand from the PICs, given the predominance of agriculture for subsistence and cash income in many of the PICs, and the comparative advantage of climate vis-à-vis Australasia. The dominance of extractive industry exports further highlights the weak links between the productive sectors in most PICs and the region’s export profile. The importance of agricultural exports, particularly in the New Zealand export figures, shows that the challenge for the Pacific is not only in boosting exports, but also increasing production for the domestic market to repin the Pacific.

One option is to improve on the current non-reciprocal arrangement using SPARTECA, to create a ‘SPARTECA Plus’ framework. Such a scheme could remove the existing technical barriers to Pacific exports, while retaining the flexibility for Pacific governments to adopt targeted policies to add value to their natural resources, boost exports and better supply their domestic markets.

The report 'PACER Plus and its Alternatives' is available on the Oxfam website: http://www.oxfam.org.nz/resources/onlinereports/pacer%20plus%20and%20its%20alternatives.pdf

TAHITI — In the north, in Tahiti, more pigeons are coming home to roost for the regime of ex-president Senator Gaston Flosse. He is awaiting the results of an enquiry into his financial affairs while in office. Also his offsider and current deputy president Edouard Fritch founded the now disbanded and deeply unpopular Groupement d'Intervention de la Polynesie (GIP)whose former head, Leonard 'Rere' Puputauki, has been arrested and is also likely to be charged for financial irregularities.

GIP members were responsible for roadblocks against the Temaru government in the 2005-2006 period.

The French Police squad is also reportedly working on another case in which some outer islands Assembly members may be involved, investigating how a fund aiming at developing outer islands has been run over the last years. Key political figures from the Tuamotu archipelago, such as Assembly member Michel Yip, could reportedly face charges, says Tahiti Press.

FRENCH POLYNESIA — over 2 000 dengue fever cases have been reported in French Polynesia, and while numbers of the new type 4 strain has decreased say Tahiti Presse, it has spread to all the archipelagoes. Over half the cases are Tahitians younger than 20.

HAWAI'I —The title Barbarian Princess is upsetting people in Hawai'i, where it was made and where it is headlining the Hawai'ian International Film Festival. It's the story of Princess Ka'iulani who strove to restore the monarchy after its overthrow in1893 and secure voting rights for native Hawai'ians. She was beautiful and intelligent, says Terry Hunter of KGMB9 radio, but could not prevent annexation by the US and died in 1899 at only 23 years of age. The title and an introduced love story wiht an Englishman named Clive have alienated locals. It failed to take an award at the festival.

AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND — In the South Island Ngai Tahu Maori have been vindicated by the Court of Appeal in their quest for vengeance for the theft of pounamou (greenstone) from the resource returned to them in a 1997 tribal settlement. Three men including one helicopter operator had been convicted of stealing more than a $1m-worth of the semiprecious stone. Their appeals against conviction were dismissed.

MANUKAU NZ — In Auckland, Manukau Water is warning customers to be wary of door-to-door salesfolk using scare tactics to sell bottled water, telling people the tap water is polluted, and worse, comes from a sewerage plant. They try to sign customers on three-year contracts with fortnightly payments, said chief executive Raveen Jaduram, whose organisation serves some 338 000 people with Ministry of Health certified 'A' grade potable stuff in an area over 50 000ha

WELLINGTON NZ — in the capital Maori Affairs minister Dr Pita Sharples drew criticism over his move to meet with sixteen gang leaders including Black Power and Mongrel Mob members to talk about what they could do to reduce gang violence. 'Meeting and talking to gang leaders in no way endorses criminal or violent behaviour' he said.

'Pita is becoming just another brown face filling space in Parliament' said Te Runanga o Ngati Whatua chair Naida Glavish, accusing him of 'grandstanding'.

TONGA — BOSS (Businesss Opportunity Support Scheme) has been established as a joint initiative with private, Tongan and New Zealand government partners – part of New Zealand's programme of official development assistance to Tonga. It is currently worth $16m and moves up to $18m in 2011/12. 'Encouraging the development of Tonga's private sector will help create the economic growth required to lift more people out of poverty' said NZ foreign minister Murray McCully this week. The scheme provides grants of up to $30 000 to encourage businesses carry out feasibility studies in export-related, import substitution and tourism sectors.

FIJI — Fiji's military coup caused it to sink 73 places to 152nd in Reporters Without Borders press freedom credibility list as troops entered newsrooms and stayed for several weeks censoring stories. Foreign journalists were deported. And New Zealand reportedly denied entry to a Fiji Family Court judge and her sick daughter because she had taken up a position in Fiji's High Court.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA — New Dawn FM, based in Bougainville has become the first media organisation in the Pacific to receive the global Communications and Social Change award from the University of Queensland's Centre for Communication and Social Change against competition from 14 other countries.


Netmedia Limited tel +64 4 4758166 www.netmedia.bz (under construction).

Netmedia publishes MediaPASIFICA — www.mediapasifica.com — an editorially-oriented database including media from Hawaii and Guam to the Cook Islands and Rapa Nui as well as indigenous media published in Australia, New Zealand and mainland USA. MidiaBrasilonline and MediaArgentinaonline will be launched during 2010

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