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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 Islands Trade: A year’s worth of bad outcomes
Despite being launched only a year ago by Pacific leaders, the negotiations on the Pacific trade agreement known as PACER-Plus are slipping away from the Islands.
Food for thought and action
A critical look at the likely implications of a free trade agreement dubbed Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER-Plus) between the island countries and Australia and New Zealand on food sovereignty.
Trade ministers to begin talks on Pacific deal
Trade ministers from Australia, New Zealand and Pacific island countries will meet in Brisbane for two days from Friday as negotiations are launched for the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER-Plus).
Fiji will pull out from trade agreements
Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji will pull out of the Trade Agreement negotiations.
Pacific leaders agree on aid, free trade negotiations
An agreement was reached to progress Pacer Plus, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations, and to keep Fiji informed but not formally involved in the process.
Australia, NZ deny bullying Pacific nations over trade deal
Australia and New Zealand Friday denied bullying Pacific Island nations into starting negotiations for a controversial regional free trade deal.
Pacific island countries set to block regional 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 continues to harbour concern over Pacific trade talks
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.
Australia’s getting the plus in PACER
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.
Pacific Islands bullied by Australian, NZ trade officials, say experts
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.