4 May 2015

Pacific civil societies speak out against PACER-Plus

2:15 pm on 4 May 2015

Almost 40 Pacific civil society organisations have signed a letter expressing concern at the proposed regional free trade agreement PACER-Plus.

Representatives from Australia, New Zealand and 14 Pacific nations are meeting in Port Vila this week for the next round of negotiations, which began in 2009.

Mary Baines reports.

The letter has been signed by civil society groups such as Fiji Women's Rights Movement, WWF Pacific, Fiji Media Watch and the Pacific Conference of Churches.

They have voiced concern that PACER-Plus negotiations discount the aspirations of Pacific countries in favour of policy interests of Australia and New Zealand.

Its concerns include that Australia and New Zealand have not offered any legally binding committments on development assistance, and proposals on labour mobility offer little to the Pacific countries.

The letter calls for the immediate suspension of negotiations until there has been informed dialogue with civil societies, and for all secret texts to be released.

It says there should be a social, cultural, environmental and human rights assessment undertaken to determine the impacts of the agreement's outcomes.

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