Pacific Islands Trade Agreement

PACER-Plus

The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations - Plus (PACER-Plus) agreement between Australia, New Zealand and 12 Pacific Island countries was finalised in Brisbane in April 2017. PACER-plus negotiations began in 2009 with 14 Pacific Island countries involved in the talks. The deal was signed on June 14, 2017, but the three largest economies - Papua New GuineaFiji and Vanuatu - did not sign. Both PNG and Fiji governments said the agreement threatens their infant industries and would not benefit their economies. 

Vanuatu pulled out of the planned signing on the 14 June, wanting more time to assess the deal before making a decision. Vanuatu later signed in September 2017.

Pacific Island, Australian and New Zealand community groups signed a petition calling for independent assessments of the social impact of the deal in each country.

Pacific trade deal PACER-Plus is PACER-minus without PNG and Fiji

Media Release, November 29, 2017: “The PACER-plus trade deal with Pacific Islands tabled in the Senate today has not been signed by Papua New Guinea and Fiji, the two largest Pacific island economies, which together represent over 80% of GDP of the combined island economies, “ AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today. “Without the two largest Pacific Island economies, PACER-plus has failed as a regional agreement and should be called PACER-minus.”

PACER-Plus barely mentioned at Pacific Island Forum Meeting

September 10, 2017: Vanuatu signed PACER-plus at the Pacific island forum meeting of leaders in Apia. Samoa. PNG and Fiji , the two largest PI economics, have still not signed. The leaders statement from the forum, which deals with a wide range of issues like climate change, security  and fisheries, as well as trade issues, barely mentioned PACER plus. The agreement has still not been tabled in the Australian Parliament, but this could take place soon.

Pacific Island Seasonal Worker Program needs stronger union role

August 16, 2017: So far the Seasonal Worker Programs for Pacific Island and Timor-Leste workers in Australia have been kept separate from trade agreements like PACER-Plus. Trade agreements are rigid and hard to change, but a stand-alone agreement such as the Seasonal Worker Program for horticultural workers, can be adjusted. As Nic Maclellan argues in his Development Policy article, there is strong evidence that significant change is needed.

Pacific trade deal weakened by Fiji, PNG and Vanuatu withdrawal, say community groups

June 13, 2017, Media Release:Vanuatu’s decision to join Fiji and Papua New Guinea to boycott the signing tomorrow of the PACER-Plus trade deal between Australia, New Zealand and now only 11 Pacific island countries shows there are serious weaknesses in the agreement because the three largest Pacific island economies are saying there are no benefits for them,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, said today.

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