29 Aug 2016

Pacific aims to sign PACER-Plus before the end of the year

3:23 pm on 29 August 2016

Pacific countries are aiming to sign off on a proposed free trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand before the end of the year.

The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus is a regional trade and economic agreement involving 16 Pacific countries which aims to to create jobs, enhance private sector growth, raise standards of living, and boost economic growth in Forum Island Countries.

Talks began seven years ago in 2009 and negotiations on the legal text of the deal concluded last week in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Chaired by New Zealand, the special trade ministers meeting also announced a commitment to wrap up the remaining market access negotiations by the end of October and sign off on the agreement before the end of the year.

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Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

New Zealand's trade minister Todd McClay said he is extremely pleased with the progress being made and believes PACER-Plus will improve the lives of Pacific peoples.

"We think this is the very best way to help these economies grow. And when economies grow and they trade more with each other jobs are created and people earn higher levels of income that are a significant achievement this week and every single minister around the table has seen that this is an agreement that is good for Pacific Island people."

However, the agreement has not been accepted by all with a petition calling for a suspension of any decision on the agreement presented to regional trade ministers.

Earlier this month Papua New Guinea declared its withdrawal from the deal and Fiji had voiced reservations about the agreement leading up to the meeting.

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