Pacific island countries are faced with increasing calls for both coercive regional integration and time bound trade liberalisation with the rest of the world. Emerging trade pacts require increased ownership and participation from the local communities, national governments, regional organisations and multi-lateral organisations, which in turn requires access to reliable information, openness and effective consultation. Partaking in trade debates offer new opportunities for non- governmental organisations, academics, trade unions, private sector representatives and the media to actively engage in balanced and well informed dialogue.
Key messages from Better Trade for the Pacific include:
- Progress on PICTA implementation has proved difficult for most Pacific island countries and progress has since stalled.
- The main problem is the lack of motivation to pursue the agreement given the perception that PICTA will not deliver immediate economic benefits for many countries and in some cases is considered detrimental because of tariff cuts and resulting reductions to government revenues.
- The overall objective of PACER is to establish a framework for the gradual trade and economic integration of Pacific island economies into the international economy.
- Key PACER Plus demands from Pacific island nations include increased access to labour markets in Australia and New Zealand, and increased investment in agriculture and fishing to improve production capacity and productivity of these sectors.
- Technical assistance and funding mechanisms are in place to support Pacific island countries to develop trade capacity and better articulate national trade priorities.