Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus: Looking towards entry into force
PACER Plus, a landmark trade and development agreement, is set to enter into force on 13 December – a significant step towards greater economic integration of our Pacific region.
Cook Islands recently joined the group of New Zealand, Australia, Samoa, Kiribati, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Niue who will become Parties to the Agreement, covering a market of over 31 million people and trade with Australia of AU$26 billion.
PACER Plus will seek to support smaller Pacific island countries – often excluded from international trade because of small populations and geographical isolation – to build the capacity to produce goods and services which they can sell competitively intra-regionally and in international markets. With the severe economic impact of COVID-19 on the Pacific, it is imperative that PACER Plus is a forum to support economic recovery. Four ratifications for PACER Plus occurred during COVID-19, demonstrating the value Pacific countries see in the Agreement and their commitment to Pacific regionalism.
Australia and New Zealand jointly funded a $7.7 million Readiness Package to help Pacific countries prepare for ratification and entry into force. Projects funded under the package include digital trade portals, making it easier to do business in the Pacific by increasing access to information about government procedures. Businesses can clearly see what documents and fees are required and how long it takes to get an export license, and investors are able to look at relevant legislation and regulations across the Pacific.
Australia’s approach to the implementation phase of PACER Plus is based on principles of partnership and Pacific ownership. The $25.5 million economic and development cooperation package will realise trade related initiatives identified by Parties and is designed to contribute to the necessary resources and capability for PACER Plus Parties to take advantage of the opportunities the Agreement presents.