PNG 'not interested' in PACER Plus trade with Australia

8 August 2016

Papua New Guinea's Trade Minister Richard Maru has told new Australian Assistant Minister for Trade Keith Pitt that PNG would not participate in the PACER-Plus deal, according to ABC news reports.

"I know the Australian Government has been actively pushing the PACER-Plus policy within the region,” Mr Maru said. “I've made it clear that PNG is not interested and that I have directed all my officers not to entertain any negotiations."

PNG is the largest Pacific Island economy and the announcement is a severe blow at a time when Pacific Island nations plus Australia and New Zealand are gearing up for a ministerial meeting in Christchurch from August 22-25. This meeting was intended to be the last round of negotiations and would wrap up the talks, which have been dragging on since 2010. Fiji, the second biggest economy, has also been reluctant to complete the negotiations.

ABC radio reported that Chief Pacific Island Trade Advisor Edwini Kessie tried to put a brave face on the loss of PNG by claiming that negotiations will proceed regardless with the aim of completion by the end of the year.

Sign the petition supporting a PACER social impact statement by August 19

As we reported in our last bulletin, Pacific Island advocacy group PANG recently published their report "Defending Pacific Ways of Life: A Peoples Social Impact Assessment of PACER-Plus". Since then, PANG reports that 47 organisations, including AFTINET, have endorsed this report and demanded the release of all PACER-plus texts and for no decision to be made until a fully funded and independent social impact assessment can take place.

PANG is now calling for individuals to sign their endorsement of this report via their petition by August 19.