The value of the Pacific agreement is controversial.   Fiji and Papua New Guinea, the two largest Pacific island states, have refused to join, significantly undermining the value of the Pacific agreement.   The elimination of tariffs on goods imported from Australia and New Zealand is expected to result in significant revenue losses for Pacific governments.  The Pacific Network for Globalization called the agreement “unbalanced” because important provisions on aid and labour mobility are not binding.  Read the text of the agreement, the analysis of the national interest and more. PACER Plus is both a trade agreement and a development agreement. It covers not only trade in goods, services and investment, but also includes 25.5 million. AUD will help Pacific island states strengthen their capacity to implement the agreement and exploit new business opportunities. Pacific island States will benefit from cheaper imports, including cheaper means of production, and modernized, more flexible and less restrictive rules of origin that will facilitate their exports. Thank you very much, Minister.
There were many views on both sides of the debate on PACER Plus. I agree that there is a good chance that Pacific island states will get the economic benefits and opportunities they expect from the PACER Plus agreement. There is undoubtedly high expectation and optimism among pacific island states that have ratified the agreement that PACER Plus will achieve. In this context, we should recognize and recognize that our Pacific governments would not have signed and ratified the agreement if they did not believe that it would provide opportunities to develop and improve their economies, improve living standards, and have access to better education and health services. As an Australian-Pacific islander, I am excited about the opportunities and opportunities offered by the agreement, which we will not realize if we do not try, based on the follow-up and application of lessons learned! Under PACER Plus, creating an enabling environment that facilitates market access and trade for Pacific island producers and producers will be critical to the economic development of Pacific island States. Understanding and addressing the regulatory aspects of these markets is important to maintain access to these markets. These are core business functions of the PHAMA Plus (www.phamaplus.com.au) programme, an australian and New Zealand government initiative implemented by DT Global since 2011 and which has continued to provide technical advice and private sector capacity building support in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, and which now also includes small island states through PACER Plus to address the sanitary and phytosanitary aspects of addressing market access. Some of the program`s achievements are documented in an impact report (see the impact report on the PHAMA Plus website). Due to COVID19, there is a renewed interest in agriculture for the Pacific Islands. For example, the high demand and associated price of kava attracts young people and their family members who have lost their jobs in agriculture. What is important is that it is not just about money, and these activities must be reconciled with the approach of achieving sustainable agriculture, managing the risks of climate change, managing food security and nutrition, environmental degradation, etc.
To do this, the PHAMA Plus programme works with public and private sector stakeholders to develop nature-based solutions such as the use of multi-crop and agroforestry systems, to develop the resilience of ecological systems to adapt to the effects of climate change and improve soil health. Where these activities are related to market access and trade, the program uses private sector investments to achieve HACCP certification to meet market and market safety requirements. One issue that I hope will allow us to discuss and negotiate improved requirements is the export of kava to the Australian market. The domestic markets of kava-producing countries make up a large part of the kava sector, and in recent years we have seen the continuous increase in kava exports to lucrative foreign markets. However, this does not apply to the Australian market, where kava is considered a prohibited import under customs regulations. As part of the Australian government`s “Pacific Step” policy, the reduction of restrictions on Pacific kava exports by the 2 Kava pilots is presented as a symbolic gesture of goodwill. However, Australia must take a fair and transparent approach to improving regional kava trade, in line with the principles and values of step up and as a member of the Pacific family. A separate article will discuss and highlight the challenges and opportunities related to the kava sector and market opportunities in Australia.
Ia manuia le tausaga fou – I wish you a happy new year! PACER Plus, a trade and development agreement involving Australia and New Zealand, as well as the majority of Pacific Forum (CIF) island states, offers businesses and governments important opportunities to boost economic recovery and regional integration. Many thanks to Minister Hawke for his informative contribution. PACER plus aims to integrate the goods, services and capital market for the PIF region. While this may increase the overall GDP of the PIF, some industries will suffer in some quarters (nations). The accession of these import-competing industries (and their beneficiaries) requires adaptation assistance in order to minimise the cost of relocation. PACER Plus lacks mechanisms for such support. There is also a lack of mechanisms for better integration of the labour market in the PIF region. CSR (for New Zealand) and SWP and PLS (for Australia) are sub-agreements that could be absorbed into PACER Plus. These parallel arrangements have allowed island workers (plus Timor-Leste) to work in Australia and New Zealand, but much more could be done – in terms of goods and services – to facilitate the mobility of workers in the PIF region. The gains from a deeply integrated labour market are likely to be greater than those from goods and services. Contribute to better economic governance: The legislative, regulatory and institutional framework required for the PACER Plus Agreement on Trade and Development means that CIFs must publish all laws, regulations, judicial decisions and administrative decisions affecting trade. Any new export and import surcharges, restrictions or bans must be made public in order to create security and transparency for the private sector.
Aid for Trade will support the CAF in these efforts to improve governance and institutional capacity in the Pacific, in line with recent requests from people like Biman Prasad. Negotiations with PACER Plus began in 2009 and ended in 2017, with eleven countries signing the agreement. The Cook Islands is recently the eighth country to ratify PACER Plus, after Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Australia. Eight ratifications is the number needed for the trade agreement to enter into force. This will happen on 13 December 2020 (Vanuatu, Nauru and Tuvalu have signed the agreement but have not yet ratified it. Papua New Guinea and Fiji have not yet signed.) Overall, PACER Plus is a win-win agreement that will help boost economic recovery in the region and modernize Pacific trading systems. .