Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Faiyaz Koya stresses that Fiji has not withdrawn from PACER Plus.
While speaking at the Joint Conference of the Fiji, Australia and New Zealand Business Councils at the Pearl Resort today, Koya said it is absurd that a number of local and international news agencies including individuals are bluntly reporting that Fiji has withdrawn from PACER Plus, when the press statement from the Fijian Government clearly stated that Fiji will not endorse the legal text and will only withdraw if Australia and New Zealand do not show flexibility on Fiji and the Pacific Island Countries key concerns.
He says Fiji wants further negotiation on the two critical issues of Infant Industry Development and Most Favored Nation that will have an implication on Fiji’s development aspirations.
Koya says Fiji has always seen PACER Plus from a positive view point as another avenue that could contribute towards reaching our development goals.
He says they cannot allow PACER Plus or any trade agreement to limit our development aspirations by taking away the flexibility to support our new and emerging industries and limiting our aspirations to strengthen South‑South trade relations.
Koya says Fiji’s policy space, and our sovereignty is critical to us and any concessions made under a trade agreement needs to be carefully assessed and must ultimately contribute to our development plans.
He says it is in Fiji’s best interest to ensure PACER Plus is a long lasting agreement which is predictable and on a sustainable basis that leads to export and private sector growth and development amongst PACER Plus parties.
Koya says Fiji has always emphasized that for this to be feasible, development dimension should be at the core of PACER Plus and the final outcome should reflect this by reflecting the different levels of development between Australia and New Zealand on one hand and the Pacific Island Countries on the other.
He says in trade negotiations, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
Koya says they believe the negotiations are still open and Fiji will continue to dialogue with Australia and New Zealand to ensure that they have a truly development friendly PACER Plus that will stand the test of time and will successfully integrate the Pacific into the global trading sphere.