Cook Islands puts PACER Plus ratification on hold

Cook Islands finance minister Mark Brown. Photo: Cook Islands News

RAROTONGA, 30 OCTOBER 2018 (RNZ PACIFIC) – The Cook Islands is putting its ratification of the regional trade deal known as PACER Plus on hold.

This comes as New Zealand last week became the first country to ratify the deal that has also been signed by nine Pacific countries and Australia.

The Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown said the decision to hit pause on the deal was over his country’s impending graduation from developing to developed-country-status.

Brown said under its new status the Cook Islands may no longer be eligible for official development assistance from Australia and New Zealand, including under PACER Plus.

“There is some capacity building available [under PACER Plus] and support that is available but if that’s not going to be able to be accessed by the Cook Islands then we need to take stock of the PACER Plus agreement and see what needs to be done before we actually finally ratify it.”

According to MFAT the eleven signatories to regional trade deal include Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

In addition to signing PACER Plus, the countries also signed an accompanying Labour Mobility Arrangement.

Notable exclusions from the agreement are Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

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