Australia and New Zealand Friday denied bullying Pacific Island nations into starting negotiations for a controversial regional free trade deal.
Opponents say island countries’ local industries would be destroyed by cheaper imports and govts would lose much of their revenue if tariffs and duties were lifted on Aussie, NZ goods
Australia has been hoping that this week’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting will approve the formal start of negotiations on the proposed PACER-Plus regional free trade deal. But for months Canberra has been rejecting growing claims by regional opponents of a deal that its been unfairly pressuring Pacific nations to agree to the process.
Global recession, climate change and the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER Plus) are expected to dominate the Pacific Islands Forum, a four-day program scheduled to begin tomorrow in Cairns, Australia.
Out of the nine resolutions made by trade ministers in the Pacific at their meeting in Samoa last month, seven were said to be concessions to their bigger neighbours of Australia and New Zealand.
Tactics employed by Australia and New Zealand to push Pacific Island countries into signing a free trade agreement are a form of “contemporary colonization,” said academic and respected analyst on Pacific Island affairs, Professor Jane Kelsey at a seminar in Auckland last week.
This weekend’s meeting of Pacific trade ministers in Auckland to progress the launch of PACER+ trade negotiations has all the hallmarks of an Australian and New Zealand ambush, the Arena network said today.
The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) has prepared a fact-sheet (10 Reasons to Challenge PACER-Plus) outlining concerns about a potential free trade agreement between Australia/New Zealand and the Pacific Island countries. Concerns include dramatic losses in government revenue, an undermining of public services, potential threats to indigenous land-rights, business closures and job losses.
The idea of a South Pacific free trade zone is a dream which has remained elusive for many years, mainly because many island nations are heavily dependent on import tariffs to maintain government services. Despite this, Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean has been touring the region in an attempt to generate new support for the concept.
Vanuatu’s government has indicated its support for a proposed regional free trade deal between Australia, New Zealand and the wider Pacific region.
Tonga’s Trade Minister says it’s unfair for people to criticise the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations or PACER PLUS until it is properly implemented.
Governments in Australia and New Zealand are keen to assure Pacific nations that relations with the region are marked by ‘shared development goals’, but as Maureen Penjueli writes, the islands’ ‘big brothers’ have been pushing an agenda of their own—especially when it comes to negotiating a regional free trade agreement.
The Rudd government has made much of its ’new approach’ to Australia’s island neighbours, but the view from the Pacific — especially of the aggressive pursuit of a new free trade deal as part of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) — is that not much has changed.
Not all Pacific Islands countries are ready to open their doors to free trade under the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), according to the Pacific Islands ACP Trade Ministers’ Meeting that was held in Fiji this week.
The Rudd Government has made much of its “new approach” to Australia’s island neighbours, but the view from the Pacific is that not much has changed.
Under pressure to sign on to new free trade agreements, Pacific Islands governments interested in securing positive outcomes for their peoples see deals on labour mobility as potential development gains. But is this the right approach? And what are the potential costs?
Australia has been accused of trying to fast-track new free trade negotiations with Pacific Island countries at a recent regional trade ministers’ meeting in the Cook Islands.
The Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) has written to the interim Government to include workers in talks regarding the various trade agreements Fiji is treaty to.
New letters show extent of dissent among Pacific trade ministers as ministers accuse top EU trade official of being "domineering" and using divide and rule tactics to split the region.
The tiny island nations of the south Pacific should have high ambitions heading into free trade negotiations with Australia, Trade Minister Simon Crean says.