Pacific Islands Trade Agreement


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 two  largest economies,  Papua New Guinea and Fiji , representing 80% of the combined GDP of Pacific Island countries, did not sign. Both have said the agreement threatens their infant industries and would not benefit their economies. 

PACER Plus was tabled in the Australian parliament in November 2017 and was  reviewed by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties which reported  on   May 9, 2018. Community groups made submissions recommending against implementation, pending independent assessments of the economic, environmental , health and gender impacts of the deal in Pacific Island countries. See the AFTINET submission  here  and the Committee Report here.  The report admitted that he absence of Fiji and PNG greatly diminished its significance,  that the main benefits would flow to Australia and New Zealand and that rapid removal of tariffs and services deregulation could harm small and vulnerable Pacific Island economies.Despite these admissions, the report recommended that the implementing legislation be approved. See AFTINET analysis here..

PNG not ready to sign PACER Plus as Pacific seasonal workers exploited in Aus

2 March 2016

Papua New Guinea has said it is not ready to sign the Pacer Plus trade deal between Pacific Island nations, Australia and New Zealand. PNG’s statement comes after more than six years of negotiations and despite the agreement being scheduled for signing in June this year. 

Adam Wolfenden from the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) speaks to ABC Radio about why PNG’s stance makes sense. Listen to the interview here

Australian aid and trade watchdogs denounce Pacific Islands Free Trade Agreement

Australian aid and trade watchdogs denounce Pacific Free Trade Agreement

SYDNEY: Independent Australian organisations, the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) and AID/WATCH, Australia’s aid monitor, have voiced serious concerns about the PACER-Plus Free Trade Agreement currently being negotiated between Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Countries. Both organisations assert that PACER-Plus will leave Pacific Island Countries disadvantaged, and ignores calls from Pacific Islanders who claim that this agreement is not in their interest.

Solomon Islands negotiator concerned development neglected in PACER-Plus

Last week trade negotiators from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island nations met in Adelaide for the seventh Intersessional meeting of the PACER-Plus trade negotiations.

Robert Sisilo from the Solomon Islands Trade Negotiations Envoy expressed his concerns that the objective of PACER-Plus - to help Pacific Island Nations achieve economic growth and sustainable development - was being neglected in the ongoing negotiations. According to an article in the Soloman Star , Sisilo is concerned that Australia and New Zealand officials have "forgotton the reasons why PACER-Plus was launched".

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.

Trade deal threatens essential services in the Pacific Islands

PACER-Plus negotiations towards a free trade agreement involving Australia, New Zealand and 14 of Pacific Island countries are underway this week in Port Vila, Vanuatu, and it is expected that trade in services will be discussed.

However, opening up all service 'markets' in vulnerable economies poses many threats to our island neighbours. Writing for Eureka Street, AFTINET campaigner Jemma Williams explains why.