The Fiji Times | 17 January 2024
PACER Plus review
By Meri Radinibaravi
The Coalition Government, with Australian and New Zealand officials, will be reviewing the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus) which was not ratified by the previous administration.
Permanent secretary for Trade Shaheen Ali said the accomplishment of three out of four of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) pillars allows time for a review of the agreement.
“As our Trade Minister (Manoa Kamikamica) and the Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka have said, given that IPEF negotiations are in a good place right now, three of the four pillars have been substantially concluded,” Mr Ali said.
“The pillar on supply chain, Fiji has ratified it.
So, now it frees up time to holistically review PACER Plus and we have scheduled this review with both Australia and New Zealand officials.
“We will start discussions this year on PACER Plus negotiations.”
Mr Ali said there was also a need to recruit more trade officials as Fiji currently only has four.
“I think both our Prime Minister and Minister for Trade has made statements in this regard.
“We have a very small Ministry of Trade and a small number of trade officials, only four at the moment.
We are trying to recruit more, but it’s not just about recruitment. It’s also about building capacity.”
The PACER Plus development-centred free trade agreement came into effect on December 13, 2020, and only New Zealand, Australia, Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Niue, Vanuatu, and Cook Islands are parties to it.
Fiji, and Papua New Guinea did not ratify this agreement despite being part of the negotiations process.
During the Forum Trade Ministers meeting in Suva last year, Mr Kamikamica had said there was no compulsion to joining PACER but as the new government, they “will consider or evaluate PACER again” and pledged to work towards ensuring Fiji derives tangible benefits from the deal.