The Trade Advocacy Fund awarded a grant to the OCTA and its member countries with the aim of enhancing their ability to shape the outcomes of future PACER Plus negotiations in two areas critical to the FICs’ development interests, namely liberalisation of services trade and investment. Under the terms of the Grant, three experts, accompanied by an OCTA staff, undertake fact-finding field missions to conduct a regulatory audit on services and investment in ten FICs, namely Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. For the remaining three FICs, namely Nauru, Niue and Tuvalu, the experts collect information through electronic means.

The consultations are used to discuss government policies and priorities as well as the role of various institutions in the services sectors and in regards to investment. The field trips undertaken are an opportunity for the OCTA and the expert to meet with the relevant public and private stakeholders in each country; they allow getting first-hand information and determining what sectors might be opened to Australian and New Zealand investors, what services sectors may be liberalised and opened to competition, and in return what countries expect in terms of market access to services sectors and investment opportunities in Australia and New Zealand. The field trips also permit the gathering of important pieces of legislation which are needed to ensure that the commitments a country might take under a Trade in Services Chapter or an Investment Chapter under PACER Plus are not inconsistent with this country’s national regulations and domestic laws.

The information gathered during the regulatory audits will provide guidance when drafting countries services schedules under PACER Plus.

Further to the country visits, two workshops on trade in services shall be held for the benefit of negotiating trade officials. The first workshop was held in Port Vila, Vanuatu, on 27-31 January 2014, and the second workshop is scheduled to be held 23-27 June 2014.

Table 1 – Scheduled Field Regulatory Audits on Trade in Services and Investment

Country Dates Expert and OCTA staff Status
Palau 16-18 September 2013 Dr. Ramonette Serafica and
Dr. Carmen Voigt-Graf
Completed
FSM 23-25 September 2013 Dr. Ramonette Serafica
Mr. Adeshola Odusanya
Completed
RMI 25-27 September 2013 Dr. Ramonette Serafica
Mr. Adeshola Odusanya
Completed
Nauru 28-30 October 2013 Dr. Carmen Voigt-Graf
Kiribati 2-6 December 2013 Pr. Robert Scollay
Mrs Valerie Goiset-Fernandez
Completed
Cook Islands 20-21 January 2014 Dr. Sherry Stephenson
Mr. Alipate Tavo
Completed
Vanuatu 22-24 January 2014 Dr. Sherry Stephenson
Dr Carmen Voigt-Graf
Completed
Solomon Islands 3-5 February 2014 Dr. Ramonette Serafica
Mrs Valerie Goiset-Fernandez
Completed
PNG 3-7 February 2014 Pr. Robert Scollay
Mr. Frazer Murray
Completed
Tuvalu 17-18 February 2014 Dr. Cramen Voigt-Graf Completed
Samoa 26-28 February 2014 Pr. Robert Scollay
Mrs Valerie Goiset-Fernandez
Completed
Niue 10-14 March 2014 Dr. Carmen Voigt-Graf Completed
Tonga 21-25 March 2014 Pr. Robert Scollay
Mr. Adeshola Odusanya
Completed