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Fiji to take its PACER Plus concerns to Australian PM

Fiji maintains it will continue to seek clarification for two controversial provisions of the proposed PACER Plus agreement, even though it will be signed in June in Tonga.

Speaking in Parliament Wednesday, Minister for Industry & Trade, Faiyaz Koya hinted the two issues – the third party most favoured nation clause and the provision on infant industries will be on the agenda of a high level meeting between leaders of Fiji and Australia.

“When our Prime Minister will meet the Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull to discuss COP23 issues, he will be well briefed on PACER Plus issues. He will put our position on PACER Plus on the table for discussion.

Minister Koya said, “Fiji does not want an agreement that does more harm than good to our industries.”

“We will work towards clarifying these two issues of concern even though the agreement will be signed in June. The current version of the agreement will be disastrous to our economic growth and to our industries, said Koya.

Last week Trade Ministers from Australia, 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 met in Brisbane to announce the  conclusion of negotiations for the region’s new PACER Plus (the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus) agreement.

Fiji and Papua New Guinea were not present, indicating that they will not be signing up to the agreement.

Minister Koya clarified that Fiji did not withdraw from the agreement but it was excluded from the Brisbane talks.

Under the Agreement, Australia and New Zealand will jointly provide AUD$7.7 million to help parties make the legal changes necessary for implementation in advance of the agreement entering into force.

This will include modernisation of customs and clearance systems to facilitate trade, a measure that will be welcomed by businesses trading in the region.

A further AUD$25.5 million (US$19.2 million) in development assistance will be made available after ratification to enable Pacific Island countries to take full advantage of the agreement. This investment will support a comprehensive work program including biosecurity strengthening, improved quality standards and promoting services trade and investment.

Complementing the agreement is a stand-alone Labour Mobility Arrangement, which will establish a broad framework for labour mobility cooperation and support efforts to build labour supply capacity in Pacific Island Countries. Increased labour mobility will deliver remittances to Pacific Island Countries and help meet unmet demand in Australia and New Zealand.


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