PNG PM Says June Deadline For Pacer Plus Agreement ‘Shaky’

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Trade deal not ready for approval; unfavorable for Pacific: O’Neill

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 4, 2016) – Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Peter O'Neill, has described the June deadline for the Pacer Plus trade deal covering Australia and New Zealand as looking shaky.

Mr O'Neill has met Australia's prime minister Malcolm Turnbull for bilateral talks, after telling the National Press Club in Canberra that his country has better access to European and American supermarket shelves for its products than those closer to home.

Mr O'Neill said the main thing was accessibility to Australian and New Zealand markets, adding that he thought PNG should be given a fair opportunity to access markets.

PNG declared this week it wasn't ready to sign the Pacer Plus deal in its current form because the terms were unfavourable to smaller nations in the Pacific.

In January, the Chief Trade Advisor for the Pacific Island countries, Edwini Kessie, said he was confident negotiations over the PACER Plus trade agreement could reach a successful conclusion by mid-year.

He said he believed Australia and New Zealand were flexible enough to allow Pacific countries to retain the right to regulate, and also to protect infant industries.

However, PNG's government recently said that PACER Plus would reduce employment opportunities in PNG and kill the country's manufacturing sector.

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