OCTA – Pacific Island Country trade officials will meet in Vanuatu to negotiate a new comprehensive regional trade agreement that will deepen economic links in the Pacific.
The tenth inter-sessional meeting on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus negotiations will be held from 22-27 March at the Pacifik Farea Convention Centre at Warwick Le Lagon in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
The meeting is being attended by trade negotiators from Pacific Island Countries (PICs), including Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.
This will be the second time that Fiji will participate in the negotiations, after deciding to re-join the negotiations last year and consequently hosting the Ninth inter-sessional meeting in Nadi in December 2014.
Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum launched the negotiations for PACER Plus in August 2009.
The negotiations offer participating countries an opportunity to deepen regional trade and economic integration.
It is expected that this trade and development agreement will inject dynamism into the economies of the PICs and enable them to receive significant benefits from international trade.
The negotiations cover a broad range of issues including regional labour mobility, development and economic cooperation, trade in services, investment and trade in goods.
The Chief Trade Adviser for the PICs, Dr Edwini Kessie, believes that due to the interconnectedness between the economies of the PICs, Australia and New Zealand, the PACER Plus Agreement will generate substantial benefits for all the participating countries, particularly the PICs.
“Given that Australia and New Zealand are the largest trading partners of Pacific Island Countries and the largest source of foreign direct investment in most PICS, as well as the biggest aid donor, a PACER Plus Agreement is likely to increase trade and investment flows while enhancing the participation of the PICs in regional and international trade,” Dr Kessie said.
“The negotiations to be held in Vanuatu in March are expected to bring us a step closer to achieving an agreement that will be development-friendly and offer an opportunity to the PICs to enhance their participation in regional and international trade.”
There is an agreed mandate to complete the negotiations by December 2015.