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PNG Post-Courier | 22 April 2015
Pacific Network on Globalisation Launches Anti-PACER-Plus Campaign
Group wants governments to walk away from trade negotiations
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 22, 2015) – The Pacific Network on Globalisation have launched their campaign against the regional free trade agreement, known as PACER-Plus. The "Tabu PACER-Plus" campaign calls on Pacific Islanders to stand up for their economic future by telling their governments to walk away from the trade negotiations.
"Today we are saying ’Tabu PACER-Plus’ as we believe that the strengths of our custom economies and our culture should be the centrepiece of our development future. PACER-Plus wants to lock our communities into a model of development that has no relevance to the Pacific reality – a model that places profits above everything else, commented Maureen Penjueli, coordinator of the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG).
The PACER-Plus negotiations were controversially launched in 2009 and will include components such as Trade in Goods, Services, Investment, Labour Mobility and Development Assistance amongst others. Negotiations which are conducted under a cloud of secrecy are aimed to be concluded at the end of 2015.
The campaign launch is coinciding with the launch of two new briefs from PANG titled "Trade off ? Explaining what PACER-Plus is and why it doesn’t support Pacific Development" and "10 Reasons to oppose the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER-Plus)."
"The two briefs launched today bring PACER-Plus into the daylight and allow for Pacific islanders to start understanding just what it is and what it will mean for the Pacific Islands. Away from the all the legalistic jargon and benign sounding words there are real-world implications for Pacific communities," continued Ms Penjueli.
"PACER-Plus is sold as a development agreement for the Pacific but the current proposals see the Pacific missing key flexibilities that apply to Least-Developed Countries. This means that the some of smallest economies in the world will be expected to make the same levels of binding restrictions on how they can regulate as their bigger neighbours," added Ms Penjueli.
"In the areas of most interest for the FICs, Australia and New Zealand are only making non-binding commitments yet demanding that FICs make binding limits on their ability to determine their development. To say this agreement is balanced in any way is a gross understatement" stated Ms Penjueli.
"PACER-Plus will not help the Pacific, it is nothing more than another project for Australia and New Zealand to control the Pacific. As such, PANG is calling on Islanders to defend their right to economic self-determination and say "Tabu PACER-Plus", concluded Ms Penjueli.
The briefs and statement by civil society organisations call for suspension of the talks can be found at www.pang.org.fj.
The campaign launch coincides with a global week of action by communities fighting free trade, for more information see www.globaltradeday.org.