14 Aug 2019

Australia praises Samoa for ratifying regional trade agreement

11:03 am on 14 August 2019

Australia's government has praised Samoa for ratifying a controversial regional free trade agreement.

Last month Samoa became the first Pacific Island country to ratify the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus, or PACER Plus.

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Photo: supplied

Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs said Samoa's move is a major step towards bringing into force an agreement that will deliver closer economic integration across the region.

According to Marise Payne the trade deal will promote prosperity and development for Pacific Island countries.

PACER Plus has been beset by criticism that it favours New Zealand and Australia, the only two other countries to have ratified the deal.

The global think tank Chatham House, warned that enforced free trade will undermine customary land holding and social capital systems in the Pacific.

But Ms Payne said PACER Plus will help Pacific nations build their economic independence.

Australia's Defence Minister Marise Payne

Australia's Defence Minister Marise Payne Photo: AFP

Australia's Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham has also welcomed the completion of Samoa's ratification processes.

"By improving integration for Pacific economies, PACER Plus will facilitate greater two-way trade and investment and modernise customs arrangements, reducing the cost of doing business in the region," Minister Birmingham said.

PACER Plus is a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) covering goods, services and investment.

Canberra argues that it will help Pacific nations but it will also provide commercial opportunities for Australian exporters and investors in a range of sectors.

The agreement will enter into force 60 days after the eighth signatory ratifies the agreement.

Signatories are Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.