The tenth round of the PACER Plus trade negotiations due to be held this week in Port Vila, Vanuatu has been postponed due to the damaging effects of Cyclone Pam, which slammed the country last week. The meeting was expected to progress the negotiations which are in their final phase. It is now expected to take place in Port Vila in the week of 4 May.
Chief Trade Adviser to the Pacific Island Countries Dr Edwini Kessie
Pacific Island Country trade negotiators and their counterparts from Australia and New Zealand were due to meet in Port Vila for the tenth round of negotiations for the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus, which would lead to a new regional trade agreement that would deepen trade and economic links between the participating countries.
The PACER Plus negotiations were launched by Pacific Leaders in August 2009 in Cairns, Australia. It is envisaged that this trade and development agreement will inject dynamism into the economies of Pacific Island Countries and enable them to derive significant benefits from international trade and achieve robust economic growth and sustainable development. The negotiations cover a broad range of issues, including regional labour mobility, development and economic cooperation, trade in goods, trade in services and investment. The Parties intend to conclude the negotiations by July 2016.
Tropical Cyclone Pam struck the archipelago last week, with the category 5 storm destroying crops, buildings and disrupting communications across the country.
The Chief Trade Adviser of the PICs, Dr Edwini Kessie, expressed his disbelief at the utter devastation caused by Cyclone Pam and expressed the hope that the international community would come to the assistance of Vanuatu to enable it to recover as rapidly as possible from this tragedy which has wiped out the developmental gains achieved by the country in recent years.
“Vanuatu has made great strides in recent years in improving its economy and raising the living standards of its people. The country was poised to leave the least-developed country category of the United Nations and be recognised as a developing country very soon. All the social and economic gains that have been achieved in recent years have been wiped out by Cyclone Pam which left colossal damage to the country’s infrastructure in its wake. It is vitally important for the international community to assist Vanuatu to rebuild its shattered economy and achieve the economic growth rate necessary to address poverty and lift the standard of living of its people,” Dr Kessie said.
“But the people of Vanuatu have shown incredible bravery in the face of adversity and have already started the job of cleaning up and rebuilding their lives. Their resilience and the support of the international community should ensure that the country recovers as promptly as possible and enhance its participation in international trade for the benefit of its people.”