The Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) is an FTA on trade in goods among 14 members of the Pacific Islands Forum. (Australia and New Zealand are excluded.) It was signed in 2001. Eleven countries — Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu — have so far ratified PICTA. As of 2008, it is being expanded to trade in services.
The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations or PACER is a framework agreement to deepen trade and investment liberalisation in the broader Pacific on a step by step basis. It was signed in 2001 and came into force in 2002. PACER includes Australia and New Zealand, who are excluded from PICTA and commits all members to begin negotiations towards a free trade agreement by 2011 at the latest. In August 2008, Simon Crean, Australia’s Trade Minister at the time, started advocating a "PACER-plus" agreement, in lieu of the originally envisaged FTA, which signals the aggressiveness of Australia’s stance to achieve an agreement, particularly given the EU’s pending EPA with the Pacific Island states. A number of officials and civil society critiques from the Pacific Islands have stated that the PACER deal is of little benefit to them, some pushing for greater labour mobility for Pacific Island workers to Australia and New Zealand. In June 2011, Fiji’s Attorney-General charged that PACER is only really benefitting the economically powerful in the region – Australia and New Zealand.
last update: May 2012
The negotiations are said to offer an opportunity to help Pacific Islands Forum countries benefit from enhanced regional trade and economic integration.
Trade ministers from Pacific Island Forum countries including Australia and New Zealand gathered to try to sign off on the negotiations which have been going on for more than 8 years.
Signed by 55 Pacific civil society organisations and over 200 individuals, the petition calls for no conclusion to be made on PACER-Plus until all the texts have been released and there has been an independent social impact assessment of the proposed deal.
Civil society groups, trade unions, church groups, environmentalists, gender activists and many more are calling for Ministers to make no decision on PACER-Plus — a free trade agreement between Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands — until there has been a proper social impact assessment and mandate from the Pacific people who are most likely to be affected.
A meeting on Pacific labour mobility under the PACER Plus trade deal has a glaring omission – the voices of organised labour.
Papua New Guinea has made it clear it will not be taking part in the final negotiations for the Australia and New Zealand led "Trade and Development Agreement" saying it would instead be seeking to establish bilateral trade agreements of its own.
Defending Pacific ways of life: A Peoples Social Impact Assessment of PACER-Plus, was commissioned by the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) to provide Pacific governments, negotiators, parliamentarians, civil society actors, customary landowners and the private sector with an alternative assessment to the impacts that PACER-Plus will have on the region.
A new report says Pacific Island countries should walk away from the proposed PACER Plus free trade agreement, suggesting it puts Australia and New Zealand’s interests ahead of the Pacific.
Pacific island governments should retain their legal right to regulate to protect their national development interests, which include the ownership and control of land, natural resources and environment, as well as the social and economic rights of their people ahead of the empty development promises from Australia and New Zealand and walk away from the regional trade talks known as PACER-Plus, a new report released today recommends.
The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) will have to work on the new and stronger MSG trade agreement (MTA) before the finalisation of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus.