The Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu, the Honourable Ham Lini, officially opened the 10th round of negotiations on a new comprehensive regional trade agreement intended to deepen economic links between Pacific Island Countries, Australia and New Zealand. This is the first meeting of trade officials from the participating countries since cyclone Pam.
Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini opening the 10th inter-sessional meeting on PACER Plus in Port Vila, Vanuatu
The tenth intersessional meeting on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus negotiations is taking place from 5-7 May at the Pacifik Farea Convention Centre in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The meeting is being attended by trade negotiators from fourteen Pacific Island Countries (PICs), Australia and New Zealand and will be the first trade meeting held in Vanuatu since Tropical Cyclone Pam caused widespread destruction throughout the country in March this year.
PACER Plus negotiations were launched by Pacific Leaders in August 2009 in Cairns, Australia, and will result in a trade and development agreement that will inject dynamism into the economies of the PICs and enable them to derive significant benefits from international trade. The negotiations cover a broad range of issues, including regional labour mobility, development and economic cooperation, trade in goods, trade in services and investment.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Lini said he believes the PACER Plus negotiations offer the best chance for Pacific Island Countries to strengthen their economies to help deal with the effects of natural disasters such as cyclone Pam .
“In tough times, more than ever, people need to find ways to earn an income. But during such times, those closest to us may not be in a position to buy the goods and services that we have to offer. That is where export opportunities become so critical. To rebuild our communities, and to make ends meet when we may face shocks or domestic shortages, we need to be able to import goods efficiently, Mr Lini said.
“That is why PACER Plus is so important, and that is why I am honoured to be speaking to you today at this, the tenth inter-sessional meeting. We all want to see PACER Plus turn into a reality that starts to benefit all of our countries.”
The Parties intend to conclude the negotiations by July 2016.