Pacific Island Countries Still Hope To Include Labor Mobility In PACER Plus Agreement

12 nations expected to sign agreement this month; PNG, Fiji opt out of trade deal

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 5, 2017) – Pacific island countries about to sign a regional trade deal are still hoping it will strengthen labour mobility arrangements with Australia and New Zealand.

After more than six years of negotiations 12 Pacific Island Forum countries are expected to sign Pacer Plus this month.

Initially, the countries had pushed for legally binding arrangements on labour mobility but Australia and New Zealand convinced them otherwise, supposedly to protect the schemes' exclusivity to Pacific countries.

But the Solomon Islands foreign minister Milner Tozaka said it was still one of the main reasons they wanted to sign on.

"That will improve that people have access to trade in these two countries under that agreement as well as what we are doing at the moment which is a piece meal approach on labour mobility," said the minister.

"It will strengthen our labour mobility agreement with New Zealand and Australia."

Papua New Guinea and Fiji have chosen not to sign Pacer Plus despite having been involved in most of the negotiations since 2009.

They said the proposed agreement was too restrictive and did not achieve anything that could not be achieved through existing bilateral arrangements.

Radio New Zealand International
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