Pacfic Forum Leaders To Consider PACER Agreement
A landmark trade and economic cooperation agreement will be considered by Leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum to be held in Nauru next week, Foreign Minister and acting Trade Negotiations Minister Phil Goff said today.
Trade Ministers from the sixteen member Pacific Islands Forum endorsed the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) at their meeting in Apia, 27-28 June, and recommended the PACER to Forum Leaders for final approval and signature.
"The PACER is not a free trade agreement as such, but it does provide for the future economic cooperation of the Forum region as a whole. It envisages this taking place in stages.
"As an initial step under the PACER, the Forum Island Countries have negotiated a trade agreement in goods amongst themselves, known as the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA). Negotiations towards free trade agreements between Forum Island Countries and New Zealand and Australia will take place later.
"In the short term, the PACER provides for cooperation on trade facilitation, including in the areas of customs procedures, quarantine and standards and conformance. It also provides for financial and technical assistance, including in the areas of trade facilitation and promotion, capacity building and structural adjustment, Mr Goff said.
If approved by Forum Leaders in Nauru, the Agreement will be open for signature by all Forum members. It would come into effect once it has been ratified by seven members of the Forum.
Cabinet has considered and approved New Zealand's signature of the PACER. The Agreement will be subject to the international treaty examination process, including tabling in Parliament, before ratification by New Zealand.
The South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA), under which Australia and New Zealand have provided duty free access for Forum Island Country exports to their markets since 1981, is not affected by the new Agreement and all its provisions will remain in force.
The text of the proposed PACER agreement can be found on the MFAT website at www.mft.govt.nz