National and regional consultations are a vital component of the negotiation process. Consultations with public officials and non-state actors, including the private sector and civil society, have been ongoing throughout the PACER Plus negotiations. The OCTA has assisted the Forum Island Countries with national consultations in diverse ways, including through the development of tools such as questionnaires on negotiating issues. During in-country visits, members of the OCTA provide Forum Island Countries’ public and private sector with presentations and updates on each negotiating issues.
Members of the OCTA team view national consultations as an opportunity to meet with country officials and stake holders from the private sector such as umbrella organisations, chambers of commerce, non-governmental organisations, exporters and other entrepreneurs. These consultations are both an opportunity for public and private stake holders to receive an update on the negotiations and a platform where dialogue is encouraged and discussions can be focused on each country’s special circumstances and key priorities.
Stakeholders attending the national consultations may receive presentations on the six PACER Plus priority issues, namely Custom Procedures, Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (SPS), Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Rules of Origin, Development Assistance and Labour Mobility; and on the additional issues being discussed by the parties to the negotiations, namely Trade in Services, Investment and Trade in goods. Countries may also request the OCTA to provide briefings and presentations on other related matters such as the relevant WTO Agreements.
The OCTA has already made in-country visits to all 13 Forum Island Countries for national consultations and continues to coordinate with the each of them to organise further consultations.