Pacific Islands / Pacific Forum
Despite the existence of agreements among the Pacific island states, intra-regional trade has been low, mainly due to the massive distances and the lack of products to sell one another. In the words of an official of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat: “The islands are hardly going to sell a lot of coconuts and fish to each other.”
In the Pacific region, only Papua New Guinea and Fiji initialled an Interim EPA mainly to protect their exports of fish and sugar, respectively, into the EU markets.
This weekend’s meeting of Pacific trade ministers in Auckland to progress the launch of PACER+ trade negotiations has all the hallmarks of an Australian and New Zealand ambush, the Arena network said today.
A trade deal between the world’s largest economic region, the European Union - and the world’s smallest - the Pacific - was never going to be easy.
Governments in Australia and New Zealand are keen to assure Pacific nations that relations with the region are marked by ‘shared development goals’, but as Maureen Penjueli writes, the islands’ ‘big brothers’ have been pushing an agenda of their own—especially when it comes to negotiating a regional free trade agreement.
Pacific governments have given early indications they will not sign the current Economic Partnership Agreement with European Union without amendments.
Concerns have been raised that the European Commission should allow Pacific countries to use export taxes for development purposes and that Economic Partnership Agreements should include adequate protection for infant industries.
The European Union has publicly assured Pacific island nations they are not at a disadvantage if they do not sign Economic Partnership Agreements.
New Zealand aid agency Oxfam is unconvinced by the European Union’s claims that forming Economic Partnership Agreements, or EPAs, will be in the best interests of the Pacific nations who choose to sign up.
The Pacific ACP States have reaffirmed their commitment to continue the negotiations of an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union “as a single region” based on existing negotiating positions as agreed last March.
The Pacific members of the African Caribbean and Pacific group of nations that rely on aid assistance from the European Union say they will continue to push for a single Economic Partnership Agreement, or EPA, for the region.
Not all Pacific Islands countries are ready to open their doors to free trade under the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), according to the Pacific Islands ACP Trade Ministers’ Meeting that was held in Fiji this week.
Pacific Island countries, including Solomon Islands, have told the European Union they remain committed to concluding a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement by year’s end. And because not all of them will sign up to the ‘trade in goods’ part, they want to focus on issues where agreement can be easiest reached.
The Rudd Government has made much of its “new approach” to Australia’s island neighbours, but the view from the Pacific is that not much has changed.
One juicy Australian-grown aid patty, some aromatic seasonal labour sauce all held together within the iron clad guarantee of two trade liberalising pieces of white bread and a smattering of forest carbon partnership-flavoured fries. What financially famished island state could resist?
Pacific NGOs, churches and trade unions working on trade justice issues are concerned about the push for free trade agreements in the Pacific and the grave risk that these agreements pose for our people.
Pacific NGOs, churches and unions have released a joint statement on trade justice in the Pacific warning of the costs of a free trade deal with Australia and NZ, and urging Pacific leaders to be wary that a new seasonal workers’ scheme could be used as a bargaining chip to enter free trade negotiations.
Under pressure to sign on to new free trade agreements, Pacific Islands governments interested in securing positive outcomes for their peoples see deals on labour mobility as potential development gains. But is this the right approach? And what are the potential costs?
Australia has been accused of trying to fast-track new free trade negotiations with Pacific Island countries at a recent regional trade ministers’ meeting in the Cook Islands.
This may include setting up a regional office to focus on issues of traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights.