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 Islands Trade Agreement
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.
June 14, 2017 Media Release: Over 30 groups and 449 individuals from the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand have called for a halt to the signing of the regional trade deal, known as PACER-Plus, until there has been proper time to assess its impacts and time to properly consult Pacific peoples. The petition is attached.
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.
9 June 2017: Vanuatu has pulled out of signing PACER-plus on June 14 in Tonga, wanting more time to assess its impacts before making a final decision.
7 June 2017: Pacific Island organisation PANG has called for more time to be given to civil society organisations and the private sector to assess the proposed PACER-Plus trade deal, with the full text being made available only two weeks before the planned signing ceremony. Read more.
1 June 2017: Pacific civil society groups meeting in Vanuatu on May 31 have criticised the PACER-plus deal ahead of a proposed signing next month, without the two largest economies of Fiji and PNG, which have said the deal does not benefit them.
The PACER-plus deal with Pacific Island nations is likely to do more harm than good.
Sign the petition calling on Trade Ministers not to sign the deal in June as planned but instead to release the text, carry out independent analysis, and have a proper debate in their Parliaments before any decision is made.
3 May 2017: The PACER-plus agreement between Australia, New Zealand and 12 Pacific Island countries was finalised in Brisbane in April 2017, but without Papua New Guinea and Fiji, the Pacific’s two largest island economies. Both governments have said the agreement threatens their infant industries and would not benefit their economies.