The New Zealand Government has today announced an increase of the cap under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme from 9000 to 9500 Pacific island workers. This responds positively to the demands of the Pacific Island Countries in the PACER Plus negotiations, which seek to enhance their participation in international trade. In June 2015, Australia took the unprecedented step in lifting the cap under the Seasonal Workers Program and extended it to the entire agriculture sector and to the accommodation sector in selected locations in the country.
With this step and the launching of pilot initiatives in the construction and fisheries sectors for the benefit of Pacific Island Countries earlier this year, New Zealand has demonstrated its commitment to the PACER Plus negotiations as a tool for the economic development of the Pacific Island Countries. Studies by reputable organisations including the World Bank and academics indicate that labour mobility represents a triple win for the sending country, host country and the workers who participate in the programs.
Apart from enhancing access of Pacific workers to their labour markets, Australia and New Zealand have committed to providing technical and financial support to the Pacific Island Countries to enable them to address the supply-side constraints which have prevented them from taking advantage of market access opportunities under previous trade agreements. The PACER Plus Parties aim at completing the negotiations, which were launched in August 2009, by June 2016. They met earlier this week in Nadi, Fiji and are expected to meet in Brisbane in early March 2016 to progress the negotiations.