News 30 Aug 2017
Making the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations – Plus (PACER Plus) Agreement work for both New Zealand businesses and Pacific Island countries was the focus of a series of events held in Auckland recently.
PACER Plus was signed by NZ, Australia and eight Pacific island countries in June this year and ratification and implementation processes are now under way.
Tessa Te Mata, NZ’s chief negotiator in the PACER Plus negotiations, now leading the implementation phase of the Agreement, held sessions in Auckland with the Tongan community, facilitated by the NZ Tonga Business Council (NZTBC); a NZ business audience, drawn from members of the various business councils with a focus on the Pacific; and academics and students from the University of Auckland and the Auckland University of Technology.
The sessions provided Tessa with the opportunity to engage with stakeholders, explain what NZ seeks to achieve from this unique trade and development agreement, and build support to make PACER Plus an effective mechanism for increased export-led growth, investment and economic development in the Pacific Islands.
There was interest in the significant development assistance commitments that NZ (and Australia) have made to support both immediate ratification and longer term capacity building and aid for trade initiatives in Pacific Island countries to ensure PACER Plus meets its ambitious objectives.
The stand-alone Labour Mobility Arrangement, which will facilitate new initiatives for temporary employment and training for Pacific workers, also featured prominently in discussions.
Not surprisingly, labour mobility is seen by Pacific communities as an important mechanism to increase the level and portability of qualifications and there was concern to ensure that trained workers are not permanently lost to their home countries.
As PACER Plus implementation progresses, NZ will be establishing working groups to progress key areas of the agreement.
The Auckland sessions were useful in encouraging participation in this process and further engagement in Auckland is planned, including with other community groups.
Visit MFAT for more information about PACER Plus.
(Picture caption: Tessa Te Mata presents updates about PACER Plus to the wider business audience in Auckland).