Samoa signs PACER-PLUS

 

The Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell signing for Samoa

NUKUALOFA, TONGA: Samoa has signed the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) at the signing ceremony in Nukualofa on Wednesday 14 June 2017.

The Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Samoa. Nine other countries signed the agreement namely Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.

PACER Plus is a trade and development agreement aiming to encourage economic development of Pacific Island Countries. The Agreement will be the platform to facilitate trade and build capacity of island economies to take advantage of not only Australia and New Zealand market opportunities but also other Pacific Island parties; and globally. The trading rules are more favourable than the existing arrangements such as Australia and New Zealand’s SPARTECA; and the Forum Island Countries’ PICTA. These arrangements also did not have a development component.

Pacific Island signatories to PACER Plus can now access AUD$7.7m to prepare for ratification including legislative drafting and customs modernisation. A further AUD$25,000 for each signatory is available to support national awareness programmes.

PACER Plus will enter into force after eight signatories have ratified the agreement. PACER Plus Parties will then benefit from AUD$25.5million towards the implementation of priority trade related needs including the capacity of Samoa’s producers of goods and service providers to increase supplies and utilise opportunities in overseas markets.

The Pacific island countries Ministers with the Prime Minister of Tonga during the Trade Agreement meeting

Existing regional programs will be enhanced including PHAMA and labour mobility cooperation (New Zealand’s Recognized Seasonal Employment and Australia’s Seasonal Workers Programme). Australia announced at the signing ceremony that it will host the next Annual Pacific Labour Mobility meeting this year. Under the Labour Mobility Arrangement, countries that have signed the Agreement would benefit from the forum discussions on innovative ways to enhance labour mobility cooperation.

Papua New Guinea had withdrawn from the negotiations in 2016. Fiji had not tabled market access offers for the consideration of negotiating parties. The Federated States of Micronesia and Palau had informed that they were not able to attend the ceremony due to logistic challenges. Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands are continuing their internal processes. The Agreement remains open for signature for these countries.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will undertake national awareness programmes on PACER Plus from July 2017.