Fiji Sun | 14 October 2015
Fiji will not change its stance
by Farisha Ahmed
Fiji will ensure that the PACER Plus agreement remains development-centered, says the Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Koya.
He was reacting to the leakage of material from the Pacific Free Trade talks.
A draft chapter titled ‘Development and Economic Co-operation’ from the regional free trade agreement known as PACER Plus has been leaked via the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).
The leaked material reveals that Australia is using its aid programme against Pacific nations, offering only weak voluntary commitments under PACER-Plus whilst demanding ever growing market access for Australian companies.
This claim was rejected by the Australian government after The Greens called on them to end negotiations and conduct social and environmental impact assessment.
“The Greens see PACER Plus as a mean for Australia and New Zealand to require the Pacific nations to reduce tariffs on imports from the larger economies,” the Greens spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said.
“Any cut to revenue will seriously affect the ability of small island nations to provide essential services such as health, education and water to their populations.”
She said the inclusion of the chapter on Development and Economic Co-operation was in response to the Pacific wanting PACER Plus to be a development agreement.
The Greens alleged that PACER Plus did not address or take into account the most serious problems faced by these island nations – rising sea levels.
“As far as PACER Plus goes, it is not a traditional trade agreement; it is a development-centered agreement with all Pacific Island nations together with Fiji.
“Fiji’s stance, the Fijian Government’s stance has always been that it is a development agreement and it must be looked at as such by all other countries that are involved in it.”
“We’re still in the process of negotiations. We got the trade ministers meeting happening shortly, we just finished the trade officials meeting, but we will not change our stance,” he said.