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Last in week in Apia signatories met to review progress towards the implementation of the PACER Plus Agreement.
Signatories were very pleased at the progress made since the Agreement was signed in Tonga, just over a year ago. Most countries have completed their legislative reviews and now have clear pathways agreed towards ratification. Work was progressing well on looking at revenue reform, readying Customs agencies, and outreach and public consultations. Signatories are now looking at the design of the PACER Plus Implementation Unit – a key entity for delivering the development and economic work plan for PACER Plus.
The Solomon Islands provided an update on the Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting that it would host in October 2018. Signatories agreed to take an ambitious approach to looking at new labour mobility opportunities that would build on existing achievements such as the Australian Pacific Labour Scheme, New Zealand’s Pacific Trades Partnership and the fisheries pilot scheme.
The signatories also talked about the importance of PACER Plus delivering inclusive benefits. This includes the economic empowerment of women which will be an important consideration for the work programme under the Agreement and future labour mobility initiatives. Recently a workshop was held in Auckland with Signatories, to help develop a gender strategy for New Zealand’s new labour mobility initiatives.
All agreed to adopting hi-tech online tools to help improve transparency, reduce red tape and improve the ease of doing business in the region. A one-stop online portal would give business people from PACER Plus countries easy access to information about exporting goods and services, investment requirements and PACER Plus’s new and improved rules of origin. The portal would be modular, allowing new members to easily dock onto its array of services and IT solutions.
The current work is being funded from the PACER Plus Readiness package (AUD$7.7 million (US$5.7 million) that is being provided by Australia and New Zealand. In the lead up to entry into force, Signatories will also consider options for delivering the 20% “aid for trade” target that could see millions in development assistance mobilised to support boosting the trade capacity and competitiveness of Pacific Island countries that are part of PACER Plus.
Signatories reaffirmed their commitment to PACER Plus, and looked forward to completing all their current activities as part of bringing PACER Plus into force in 2019.
As members of the Pacific Island Forum, all agreed that it was vital to support the vision of those who founded the Forum and, in the spirit of the Blue Pacific Continent, called on other members of the Forum to support their efforts to deliver regional trade integration and prosperity for Pacific Peoples.
Signatories to the PACER Plus Agreement, are Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
SOURCE : NZ GOVT/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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