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End of trade talks

Monika Singh
Friday, April 21, 2017

THE negotiations for the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus has ended yesterday with the negotiating parties preparing the text for legal release with plans to sign the agreement in Tonga on June 16.

A statement from the Office of the Chief Trade Advisor yesterday said trade ministers of Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu concluded negotiations for PACER Plus yesterday.

It said once implemented the PACER-Plus would make it easier for businesses to trade and invest across the Pacific.

"It will remove barriers to trade, including tariffs, at a pace that takes into account the varied levels of development, and the unique vulnerability and fragility of Smaller Island States and Small Island Developing States."

According to the OCTA, under the agreement, Australia and New Zealand would jointly provide $A7.7 million ($F12m) to help parties make the legal changes necessary for implementation in advance of the agreement entering into force.

It said a further $A25.5m ($F39m) in development assistance would be made available after ratification to enable Pacific Island countries to take full advantage of the agreement.

This investment is expected to support a comprehensive work program including biosecurity strengthening, improved quality standards and promoting services trade and investment.

"This package would be complemented by increased spending on aid for trade with a view to enhancing the participation of the Pacific Island Countries in international trade.

"In that regard, Australia, consistent with its Strategy for Aid for Trade Investments, has undertaken to target 20 per cent of its Pacific Official Development Assistance budget for aid for trade initiatives. New Zealand has committed to target 20 per cent of its total overseas development assistance budget for aid for trade.

"These investments will bolster the productive capacity of the FICs and improve their trade-related infrastructure," it said.

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