Pacific chief trade advisor still hopeful for PACER-Plus

The chief trade advisor for the Pacific Island Forum countries says a proposed regional free trade agreement is not under threat after Fiji's reported withdrawal.

RNZ reports On Friday, Fiji's trade minister, Faiyaz Koya, said his country was withdrawing from negotiations for PACER-Plus, citing inflexibility from Australia and New Zealand.

Fiji's withdrawal would mean the Pacific's two largest economies outside of New Zealand and Australia - Fiji and Papua New Guinea - would not be included in the deal.

Vanuatu had also recently expressed dissatisfaction.

But Dr Edwini Kessie said the remaining issues were not serious, and he believed a deal could still be reached - with Fiji included.

"Trade negotiations are always very controversial. As we say, trade is not a zero-sum game, it involves all the parties making sacrifices and I don't think the remaining issues are very difficult and I'm hopeful we should be able to reach an agreement which will serve the interests of the forum countries very well, "said Kessie.



The Chief Trade Negotiator for the Pacific Islands, Dr Edwini Kessie, has defended the PACER Plus negotiating process. Photo: RNZ/Alex Perottet