Pacific Islands / Pacific Forum
The Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are taking on disproportionate binding commitments in exchange for false promises of benefits from the regional free trade deal known as PACER-Plus.
What the development assistance arrangement results in, is aid money, tightly controlled by Australia and New Zealand to flow to areas that will make Forum Island Countries uphold their commitments on market access, ultimately benefiting the two metropolitan Parties.
PACER-Plus itself achieved little by way of actual improvements for Pacific Islander workers to access the labour markets of Australia and New Zealand.
The trade deal known as Pacer Plus will have immediate benefits for the Cook Islands when it comes into force later this year, says the Cooks’ deputy prime minister.
In this interview, we discuss the PACER+ trade deal, the post Cotonou talks with the EU and the influence of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the Pacific region.
The new agreements cover a range of areas, including education, e-commerce, investment, infrastructure and agriculture.
Pacer Plus has been promoted as a hybrid development and trade deal, with the primary benefits going to the nine Pacific countries that have signed the deal.
Despite the failures of the EPA to deliver real development to Pacific countries it looks as though the European Union will once again, through the Post Cotonou Agreement, push for enhanced and undistorted access for European investments to Pacific resources.
China is launching an agricultural training programme for Pacific Island countries to bring their industries in line with Chinese standards.
The concerns held by Pacific communities and some Pacific island governments about the regional free trade agreement known as PACER-Plus are well founded according to new analysis released by the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG).
PACER-Plus is a highly problematic FTA containing far too many concessions by Forum Island Countries to Australia and New Zealand, reshaping Pacific Island economies.
The heads of state from Mercosur’s member nations will attend high-level talks with the Pacific Alliance trade bloc.
Samoa and Papua New Guinea will represent the Pacific at the Ministerial level central negotiating for the post-Cotonou agreement.
PACER-Plus will undermine the right of governments to regulate, and see the Pacific bear the burden of binding commitments in the areas of interest to Australia and New Zealand whilst getting little legal commitments in return.
An analyst says New Zealand’s planned trade deal with the Pacific Island nations could be extremely damaging to their economies.
New Zealand risks being seen as a “strategic nincompoop, at best” if it persists with attempts to bind Pacific Island countries into the New Zealand and Australian economies using mechanisms such as the PACER Plus.
Papua New Guinea will sign the Melanesian Spearhead Group free trade agreement as soon as the leaders resolve some of the outstanding domestic trade-related issues.
Pacific countries already signed up to the PACER Plus are being urged to more closely examine their commitments under the deal, including the implications for customary land.
Heads of Pacific governments are moving forward with groundwork on negotiations for a renewed trading partnership with the European Union, as part of the larger African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States.
PACER-Plus will have a serious impact on the ability for Solomon Islanders to determine for themselves their own development future.