Australia’s government says trade and prosperity in the Pacific will thrive when the PACER Plus regional trade agreement comes into force within two months.
Last week the Cook Islands became the eighth state to ratify the agremeent triggering its formal entry into force.
A statement from the Office of the Minister for International Development, Alex Hawke, said the agreement would deliver new and enhanced trade opportunities for Australia and its Pacific partners, with benefits in farming, fisheries, business and increased investment.
The statement said the agreement will also support the region’s economic recovery from the impacts of Covid-19.
Australia is providing $US13.5 million to support the implementation of PACER Plus.
Meanwhile New Zealand’s Pacific Co-operation Foundation has also welcomed the news the agreement will be in force.
The PCF said PACER Plus was a trade and development agreement that would lower barriers, provide greater certainty for New Zealand businesses and raise living standards, create jobs and increase exports in Pacific countries.
The PCF Board Chair and acting Chief Executive, Fiso John Fiso, welcomes the Government’s announcement that PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days.
“PACER Plus ready to go sends a very strong message that the Pacific region and New Zealand are ready to do business,” said PCF Chair and acting Chief Executive, Fiso John Fiso.
“In our current Covid environment and the fiscal pressures this has placed on New Zealand and the Pacific region, we need to all think strategically about how we can work better together for shared solutions.”
Fiso said 20 percent of New Zealand’s Aid budget to the Pacific was set aside for “Aid for Trade’, which was about helping developing countries to build trade capacity and infrastructure.
“There are huge opportunities for New Zealanders to invest and or partner with the Pacific region, such as start-up businesses, and contribute towards greater trade opportunities between the Pacific region, and New Zealand.
“Examples of this are greater labour mobility from the Pacific to New Zealand beyond traditional sectors such as RSE workers, to other higher skilled occupations,” Fiso said.
The PCF head said the aged care sector was one which could be looked at given the shortage of workers in New Zealand.
“Conversely, we could look at developing agricultural initiatives from New Zealand into the Pacific region.
“There is currently a huge trade imbalance between the Pacific region and the rest of the world. Addressing this imbalance will be good for the Pacific region, and bring greater resilience to Pacific countries.”
PACER Plus will enter into force on 13 December.
Australia, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and New Zealand have now ratified. The remaining signatories yet to ratify are Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
(Source: RNZ pacific news 19 October 2020)