PNG and Fiji which have the two biggest economies in the Pacific, apart from Australia and New Zealand are against the trade agreement.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website states that, “PACER Plus negotiations offer an opportunity to help Pacific Islands Forum countries benefit from enhanced regional trade and economic integration.”
PACER Plus was introduced by Australia and New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in 2009.
“My view as the Trade Minister of Papua New Guinea is not in position to be part of PACER Plus, any trade agreement with Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific Islands, that reduces employment, kill my manufacturing industry by removing tariffs and duty will never be acceptable in Papua New Guinea,” Maru said.
“As the trade minister I will not support the PACER Plus agreement pushed by Australia and New Zealand.
“The reason is simple, last year 23,500 students grade 12 students set for exams, (but) only 5,000 found places in universities and technical and teachers colleges and 18, 500 had to go back home.”
“The world must realise the biggest single problem that PNG has is the unemployment of its young population, so any trade agreement we enter into as a country and a responsible government … it must be to grow the private sector, grow the manufacturing sectors and employment opportunities.
“PACER Plus in its current form, especially the push to move tariff and duty will kill our manufacturing sector,” Maru said.
Picture source www.businessadvantagepng.com