THE seventh PACER-Plus Intersessional Meeting started yesterday in Adelaide, South Australia, with a strong reminder, particularly to the senior officials of Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), of the compelling reasons why PACER-Plus was launched.
“Above all, we should not forget the reasons why PACER-Plus was launched,” Robert Sisilo, Solomon Islands Trade Negotiations Envoy, reminded the meeting.
“It was launched with a view to facilitating the trade of Forum Island Countries (FICs) with ANZ and helping the FICs to attain economic growth and sustainable development,” he added.
“This is the overriding objective of PACER-Plus and this should guide us in our work.
“Development-oriented provisions should be included in all our texts to reflect what our Leaders envisaged when they, in their wisdom, launched our negotiations,” Mr Sisilo, also the lead spokesperson for the Island Countries on PACER-Plus, stressed.
According to Mr Sisilo, it is increasingly becoming clear that ANZ officials have forgotten the reasons why PACER-Plus was launched.
“It is not obvious from their negotiating positions that they see PACER-Plus as a trade and development agreement.
“In many instances, simple provisions which do not impose any rock-solid obligations on them (ANZ) have been routinely rejected.
“We need not remind ANZ that PACER-Plus is supposed to be an innovative agreement that would combine trade and non-trade elements into a winning formula that would reverse the economic stagnation in our countries.” Mr Sisilo lamented.
The 7th Intersessional Meeting will run for 3 days and there is a huge expectation from the FICs to hear substantive commitments from ANZ on labour mobility and development assistance.
This is to reciprocate what the FICs will substantially commit to in their trade in goods and services offers to ANZ.
Interesting times indeed for PACER-Plus later this week in Adelaide, South Australia.