Fiji Permanent Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism Shaheen Ali has thrown his weight firmly behind the PACER Plus regional trade negotiations held in Fiji this week.
This is the first time an inter-sessional meeting on PACER Plus has been held in Fiji, following Fiji’s entry into the negotiations in September 2014.
The PACER Plus negotiations were launched in 2009 by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders. The negotiations offer an opportunity to enhance regional trade and economic integration between the Pacific Island Countries, Australia and New Zealand. Through the negotiations, member countries are determined to reverse the marginalisation that Pacific Islands face in the global economy through increased participation in international trade.
Mr Ali told the meeting he believes PACER Plus is in Fiji’s and the Pacific Islands best interests as regional trade will foster development in the whole region as well as Fiji.
“We can call this week’s negotiations a success. It has been important for all parties involved and we have made significant progress in a number of areas. The Fijian Government believes that a commitment from both sides which recognises the uniqueness of the Pacific island countries, Australia and New Zealand means that PACER Plus will be negotiated and concluded as the first genuinely development friendly agreement between developed countries and a developing group of countries,” Mr Ali said.
“The Fiji government firmly believes that PACER Plus should not be viewed as a traditional agreement between Pacific Island Countries and Australia. Rather it should be seen as a vehicle to provide worthwhile and long lasting opportunities for all members of the region and allows the region to integrate smoothly into the global trading system and also transform the pacific into a strong, dynamic and vibrant economic bloc.”
Labour mobility and development assistance remain two key focus areas for discussion but the Chief Trade Adviser for the Forum Island Countries Edwini Kessie says that all parties will continue to work together to progress these issues in the negotiations ahead.
“While there are significant differences in the positions of the Parties on labour mobility and development assistance, the Parties are determined to bridge their differences and achieve agreement in these two fundamental areas,” Mr Kessie said.
There is an agreed mandate to complete the negotiations by December 2015.
The next inter-sessional meeting is scheduled to take place in Port Vila, Vanuatu in March 2015.
Office of the Chief Trade Adviser
Mr Benjamin Mutandadzi, Communications Officer
Tel: 25003 ext 24