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PACER & PICTA

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


Pacific trade agreement opponents to have their say
Australian, Tongan and Fijian opponents to a new Pacific trade agreement will give evidence at a parliamentary hearing.
Niue ratifies regional PACER Plus trade agreement
Niue has ratified the regional trade agreement PACER Plus, pushing it closer to implementation.
Solomons ratifies Pacer Plus amid calls for re-think
Solomon Islands is the sixth country to ratify Pacer Plus. The agreement comes into force 60 days after at least eight of the 11 signatories have ratified.
Pacific shouldering burden in unbalanced PACER-Plus Trade Deal
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.
PACER-Plus development assistance analysis: No new money but still with strings attached
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 labour mobility analysis: Unbound promises and an annual meeting
PACER-Plus itself achieved little by way of actual improvements for Pacific Islander workers to access the labour markets of Australia and New Zealand.
Pacer Plus set to come on stream later this year - Cooks Deputy PM
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.
Tonga ready to ratify PACER Plus
Tonga’s government has committed to ratifying the Pacer Plus trade deal.
Cook Islands to ratify PACER Plus
Cook Islands Prime Minister has signalled his government will shortly ratify a major regional trade agreement.
Mixed reviews on Pacific Trade deal, Pacer Plus
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.