PACER PlusTrade Agreement negotiation is getting No Where
The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations or PACER Plus negotiations is getting no-where. If Australia and New Zealand are serious about pursuing trade policy with the Pacific islands that will stimulate economic development, greater political leadership as well as strategy rethinking are needed. While a few Pacific negotiators are happy with the way the negotiation stages are going, most have been disappointed with the PACERPlus talks. Most negotiators are saying that Australia and New Zealand have to think strategically and make offers that will be accepted as at the moment there is really nothing of value for the Pacific Island states in the agreement. Until something of interest is placed on the table, it seems PACERPlus won’t be going anywhere.
Papua New Guinea (PNG), a large Melanesian nation within the Pacific region with large amounts of natural resources at its disposal refused to enter into the PACERPlus trade negotiations because there is nothing in this trade agreement for PNG and the Forum Island states as stated by one of the country’s ministers. While Fiji is participating in the negotiation with reservations, on the benefits from enhanced regional trade and economic integration, other island states should take their time to review the entire working document before moving any further into the negotiations.
Dr. Roman Grynberg, a well-respected Economist who worked before for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat spoke against the content of the PACER Plus trade agreement and its implementation schedules. He said the trade agreement will not benefit anyone except Australia and New Zealand. Businesses in the Pacific who have worked with Dr. Grynberg would agree entirely with his views. It is not rocket science or one does not need to be an economist to read between the lines to see where this trade agreement is heading.
The Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce & Industry (VCCI) is calling on the Vanuatu Government, the Opposition, all MPs and all national leaders to take their time to read through the entire trade agreement document before deciding on Vanuatu’s next move. Vanuatu should not rely entirely on the advice given by a few of its trade negotiators and the Office of the Chief Trade Advisor (OCTA) based in Port Vila. The VCCI is happy to work closely with the Vanuatu Government to weigh the pros and cons of this trade agreement before an official stand can be taken whether to sign the agreement or not.