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Pacific Trade Agreement Comes Into Force

Media Statement

3 October 2002

Pacific Trade Agreement Comes Into Force

The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations comes into force today, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said.

PACER is the overarching framework agreement setting out the basis of trade relations between the 16 Forum Island members, including New Zealand and Australia. It could lead to a Closer Economic Partnership trade agreement between Pacific Island countries and Australia and New Zealand in the future.

Mr Sutton said that now the PACER was in force, it would trigger a programme of trade facilitation measures designed primarily to benefit the Forum Island Countries.

New Zealand has already earmarked $250,000 for this programme, which will be developed and coordinated through the Forum Secretariat over the next year. The programme aims to build capacity and help streamline processes in the areas of sanitary, phyto-sanitary matters, customs procedures, and standards and conformance.

"PACER provides a trigger mechanism that gives New Zealand and Australia equal opportunity to enter into discussions towards a free trade arrangement should the Forum Island States commence negotiations with another developed country or region. An example would be negotiations that the Pacific ACP members are planning to enter into with the European Union under the Cotonou Agreement.

"The PACER is a very positive step for the region as it provides an important framework for the future development of trade and economic cooperation in our region".

New Zealand merchandise exports to the Pacific region for the year 2001 amounted to $828 million.


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