Big gains for Pacific countries in PACER Plus - Kessie

The trade arrangement among Pacific nations is due to be signed in June after negotiations were completed last week.

Edwini Kessie said the New Zealand Green Party MP Barry Coates was wrong to claim there is a lack of access.

He said the issue was the difficulty Pacific Island countries often have in establishing rigorous bio-security systems, but under the deal New Zealand and Australia were committed to help the smaller nations achieve this.

"So the statement that they don't have access to Australia for tropical fruits is not accurate," Dr Kessie said.

New trade deal could divide Pacific - NZ MP

The veteran of the aid and development sector is critical of the PACER PLUS agreement involving New Zealand and Australia and 12 island countries that is set to be signed in June.

But missing from it are the two biggest economies among the island nations, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

While PACER is being touted by Australia and New Zealand as a great deal for the island countries, Mr Coates said they get few benefits.

The MP said the deal also goes against the emphasis placed on regionalism by Australia and New Zealand.

PACER-Plus trade deal without PNG and Fiji a bad deal says AFTINET

The deal was finalised in Brisbane last Thursday, and may be formally signed on June in Tonga.

Dr Ranald said the two largest economies, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, have both refused to endorse the final text, saying it did not recognise their need to develop their infant industries. Without them, PACER-Plus has failed as a regional agreement.

“PNG and Fiji’s rejection shows that the agreement is heavily skewed towards the interests of Australia and New Zealand - despite early rhetoric that the agreement was about development needs,” said Dr Ranald.

Fears of Pacific free trade deal push with TPP gone

PACER-Plus promises a trade and economic integration deal between the Pacific island countries and Australia and New Zealand.

It has been under negotiation for eight years.

The Pacific Network Against Globalisation's campaigner, Adam Wolfenden, said the collapse of the TPP presented Australia and New Zealand with a chance to reframe PACER Plus.

Lack of transparency on PACER-Plus paints bleak future for Pacific people

RNZ reports Pala Molisa, who is ni-Vanuatuan, is a lecturer at the Victoria University of Wellington's School of Accounting and Commercial Law.

He said by choosing to conduct trade negotiations behind closed doors and refusing to release trade documents to the public, Pacific leaders have shown a lack of faith in democracy and a lack of respect for the public.

Mr Molisa said the leaders' actions were also at odds with their claims that PACER-Plus will be good for the Pacific.

PNG stand on PACER Plus remains: Trade Minister

The PNG Government earlier this year said it will not be party to the trade agreement because it favours the bigger economies of Australia and New Zealand.

Maru’s comments followed smaller Pacific Islands States welcoming the commitment by Australia and New Zealand to provide appropriate resources for the implementation of PACER Plus with respect to the development and economic cooperation chapter of the text, and for the broader trade related assistance at the recently concluded 47th PIF Summit in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Pacific chief trade advisor still hopeful for PACER-Plus

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.

Australia and New Zealand unveil new funding for Pacific

Senior representatives from 16 countries met in Christchurch, to negotiate the final terms of the 'Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus' (PACER Plus) agreement which aims to create jobs and raise standards of living in the Pacific region.                                               

The ministers agreed to conclude negotiations by the end of October and seal the agreement by December, NZ minister of trade Todd McClay said in a statement.

Pacific countries condemn 'misleading' statements on PACER Plus

RNZ reports the Australia and New Zealand led negotiations for the "Trade and Development" arrangements are due to wind up this month with the signing and ratification set to take place by December.

But the Pacific Network on Globalisation has consistently opposed PACER PLUS, saying it favours Australia and New Zealand and raises concerns about sovereignty.

PANG has repeatedly called for a halt to negotiations until an independent impact assessment of the proposed deal is conducted.

Report condemns PACER Plus process

According to RNZI, the report, by the Pacific Network on Globalisation, or PANG, was based on leaked negotiating texts from talks on the regional agreement, which is still being finalised.

It accuses Australia and New Zealand of aggressively advancing their own interests, at the expense of their smaller neighbours, and called for a proper impact assessment.

One of the report's chapters was written by Auckland University's Jane Kelsey, a prominent critic of free trade agreements.