Pacific Islands trade agreement progressing slowly
Progress on the PACER-Plus negotiations for a trade agreement between Australia, New Zealand and 14 developing Pacific Island nations has been slow. The Pacific Islands are pushing for additional development assistance to be given as part of the trade agreement, which is being resisted by Australia and New Zealand. The Pacific Islands also want to include labour mobility in the deal, which would allow more Pacific Island workers in to Australia and New Zealand. So far, Australia has been unwilling to commit to this and New Zealand is looking at offering a labour mobility program outside of the framework of the trade agreement.
AFTINET is concerned about pressure to include labour mobility because people are not commodities, and trade agreements do not have safeguards for worker’s rights. From AFTINET’s perspective, labour mobility arrangements should be made in a separate arrangement and focus more on development, rather than as a negotiating point for a trade agreement with the Pacific Islands.
AFTINET is also concerned about the impacts of PACER-Plus on services in the Pacific Islands, and is campaigning for development, not trade, to be the main focus of Australia’s relationship with the Pacific Islands.