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May 2011 update on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus negotiations

The Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers' Meeting, held in Tonga on 18-19 May 2011, took a number of decisions relating to the PACER Plus negotiations. More information can be found on: 2011 Forum Trade Ministers' meeting outcomes.

With regard to Non-State Actors, Forum Trade Ministers noted the consultations undertaken to date and that the next Non-State Actors Dialogue on PACER Plus would be held in the margins of the next PACER Plus Officials' meeting.

With regard to the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser (OCTA), Forum Trade Ministers noted the previous Forum Trade Ministers' agreement to establish the OCTA to assist Forum island countries on PACER Plus matters only, and that they also previously agreed that the OCTA should not be a new international or regional organization. Ministers agreed that funding arrangements between development partners and OCTA should not compromise the independence and integrity of OCTA operations and activities. Ministers noted all current arrangements in the provision of trade negotiations advice to Forum island countries and recommended that these arrangements be discussed at the Forum Leaders' meeting in September 2011. Ministers also noted that Australian and New Zealand funding for OCTA be provided to undertake PACER Plus work without prejudice to discussions by Forum Leaders in September 2011.

Forum Trade Ministers agreed that the next PACER Plus officials' meeting would be held before the end of 2011, preferably in November. Ministers noted the possibility of another PACER Plus officials' meeting being held in early 2012. Ministers agreed the next meeting of PACER Plus officials should focus on customs procedures, rules of origin and regional labour mobility, with other priority negotiating issues to be discussed at subsequent officials' meetings. Ministers also thanked Australia for their offer to host the next PACER Plus officials' meeting.

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