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Trade ministers review Pacific agreement progress

Trade ministers to review Pacific agreement progress

Pacific regional trade agreements are to be reviewed when Pacific trade ministers meet in Nadi this week.

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today that he was looking forward to discussing how best to move the regional trade agenda forward with his Forum Island and Australian colleagues.

"It is important that the islands engage with the outside world to enhance economic efficiency and provide opportunities for economic growth and jobs for their young people."

New Zealand will also brief the Pacific trade ministers on its various trade negotiations. Pacific Island countries are yet to brief New Zealand on their trade negotiations with the European Union.

Two regional trade agreements, PACER and PICTA, have been in force for three years.

PICTA is a free trade agreement amongst the Forum Island Countries which will bring in tariff cuts this year, with tariffs on intra-island trade due to reduce to zero by 2012. Considerable work has had to be done by the islands to gear up for implementation of the rules of origin so that trade under the agreement can get underway.

PACER is an umbrella agreement that includes Australia and New Zealand. It provides for a regional trade facilitation programme focusing on customs, quarantine and standards issues. New Zealand has committed an initial $1.25 million to trade facilitation and will consider supplementing this support in the future.

The Minister will be accompanied at the meeting by Parliamentary Private Secretary Luamanuvao Winnie Laban.

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