The Office of the Chief Trade Adviser, with the financial support of the European Union, convened a high-level meeting on the PACER Plus negotiations for Forum Islands Countries’ Ministers of Trade, Parliamentarians, Ambassadors and Permanent Secretaries in Auckland, New Zealand on 24-25 September 2014. The objective of the meeting was to brief the participants about recent developments in the PACER Plus negotiations and seek guidance from them on the two issues of fundamental importance to the Forum Island Countries (FICs) in the negotiations, namely labour mobility and development assistance.
In his keynote address, the deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fonote Nuafesili Pierre Lauofa, stated that the meeting was being held at an opportune time considering the progress that was being made in the PACER Plus negotiations. He noted that PACER Plus held great promise for the FICc, as it would contribute to their long-term economic growth and sustainable development. He urged Australia and New Zealand to give substantive commitments on labour mobility and development assistance, as these would ensure that the FICs derived significant benefits from the Agreement. He welcomed the decision of Fiji to rejoin the PACER Plus negotiations and said that this would provide an impetus to the negotiations and ensure that a balanced agreement was reached that would further the interests of the FICs and promote regional integration in the Pacific.
In his introductory statement, the Chief Trade Adviser, Dr Edwini Kessie, stated that progress was being made in the negotiations and with flexibility from the Parties on the major outstanding issues, it should be possible to conclude the negotiations in December 2015 or by July 2016 at the latest. He noted that trade was an important tool that can be harnessed by the FICs to achieve robust economic growth and impove the living standards of their people. He also welcomed the participation of Fiji in the meeting and said that its engagement in the PACER Plus negotiations would strengthen the negotiating process and benefit all PACER Plus Parties.The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Fiji, Mr. Shaheen Ali, thanked the Ministers and the other high-level officials for their warm welcome and said that Fiji was delighted to join them as an equal partner in the PACER Plus negotiations to pursue a balanced agreement that would would truly transform their economies and ensure that they drive tangible benfits from international trade.Fiji will be hosting the ninth intersessional PACER Plus meeting in the week of 8 December 2014 in Nadi.
Dr. Edwini Kessie
Chief Trade Adviser
Office of the Chief Trade Adviser
Air Vanuatu House, Port Vila, Vanuatu
P.O. Box 561
Tel/Fax: (678) 25003