News Item

PACER Plus signing in Tonga

2 May 2017

Next month, nearly 10 years of planning will culminate in the signing of PACER Plus - Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus.

Representatives from all 14 participating members, including New Zealand, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Kiribati, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, will be in Nuku’alofa, Tonga to sign the agreement.

It has been challenging getting the agreement over the line, and the successful conclusion of PACER Plus negotiations in Brisbane is a landmark day for trade and the sustainable economic development of the Pacific, NZ Trade Minister Todd McClay says.

Absent from the conclusion of negotiations were representatives from Papua New Guinea and Fiji, after both countries pulled out of the agreement.

No country has achieved high and lasting growth without participating in international trade, and once implemented, PACER Plus will make it easier for businesses to trade and invest across the Pacific region, say participating country representatives.

It will remove barriers to trade, including tariffs, and the unique vulnerability and fragility of Smaller Island States and Small Island Developing States.

Under PACER Plus, Australia and New Zealand will jointly provide AUD 7.7 million to help parties make the legal changes necessary for implementation, including the upgrade of customs and clearance systems to facilitate trade.

A further AUD 25.5 million in development assistance will be made available after ratification to enable Pacific Island countries to take full advantage of the agreement.

This investment will support a comprehensive work programme including biosecurity strengthening, improved quality standards and promoting services trade and investment.

The package will be complemented by increased spending on aid for trade with a view to enhancing the participation of the Pacific nations in international trade.

Australia, consistent with its Strategy for Aid for Trade Investments, has undertaken to target 20 per cent of its Pacific Official Development Assistance budget for aid for trade initiatives, while NZ has committed to target 20 per cent of its total overseas development assistance budget for aid for trade.

These investments will bolster the productive capacity of the Forum Island Countries (FICs) and improve their trade-related infrastructure.

Complementing the agreement is a stand-alone Labour Mobility Arrangement, which will establish a broad framework for labour mobility cooperation and support efforts to build labour supply capacity in Pacific nations.

Increased labour mobility will deliver remittances to nations and help meet unmet demand in Australia and NZ.

The legal text is currently being prepared, ahead of the June (date TBC) signing.

Visit https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/free-trade-agreements/agreements-under-negotiation/pacer/ for more information about PACER Plus.