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
Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island countries are likely to be forced to drop trade barriers earlier than planned to Australia and New Zealand.
Vanuatu has ratified the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA). The PICTA seeks to create a free trade area over a decade, initially starting with the Pacific Forum Island Countries, and providing for expansion to other trade partners in future.
Pacific Islands Forum countries have decided it is now time to move beyond their existing SPARTECA agreement with Australia and New Zealand, according to reports from Nadi, Fiji, on Friday.
Non-Governmental Organisation’s and regional civil society organizations are concerned that not enough thought is being given to trade agreements, says coordinator Stanley Simpson.
A People’s Guide to PACER by Prof Jane Kelsey. Commissioned by the Pacific Network on Globalisation - Aug 2004
The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) has released a user-friendly report on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) and the potential implications of a free trade agreement between Pacific island countries and Australia and New Zealand.
It has been a relatively easy matter for Pacific Islands Country (PIC)
governments to sign regional trade agreements such as PICTA (Pacific Island
Countries Trade Agreement - excluding Australia and New Zealand) and PACER (Pacific Agreement for Closer Economic Relations - including Australia and NZ.)
Nadi - There has not been enough public discussion on the creation of a Pacific free trade area, Fiji interest groups said yesterday.
The issue was led by Stanley Simpson, of the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG).
Recent experience with the implementation the Melanesian Spearhead Group
(MSG) Free Trade Area Agreement effectively illustrates how Pacific
leaders sign regional and international agreements without adequate consultation and assessment at national and local level.
The Implications for the Pacific Islands of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations by Prof. Jane Kelsey - commissioned by the Pacific Network on Globalisation - interim report - April 2004