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May 2012 update on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus negotiations

The Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers' meeting, held in the Republic of Marshall Islands on 11 May 2012, took a number of decisions relating to the PACER Plus negotiations. More information can be found on: 2012 Forum Trade Ministers' meeting outcomes.

Forum Trade Ministers noted the outcomes from the fourth PACER Plus Officials' meeting and agreed that inter-sessional meetings would be held to progress work on the priority areas of labour mobility, rule of origin, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures, and development assistance before the next PACER Plus Officials' meeting.

Forum Trade Ministers directed officials to increase engagement and make rapid progress on the priority areas at the inter-sessional meetings and agree on a roadmap for the remaining negotiating issues. Forum Trade Ministers also agreed that the first inter-sessional meeting would be held in Vanuatu no later than July 2012. It was noted that the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser would raise the issue of the application of the concessional and preferential fees to Forum Island countries' students in Australian and New Zealand educational institutions.

Forum Trade Ministers agreed that the outcomes from the inter-sessional meetings would be agreed ad-referenda at the next PACER Plus Officials' meeting. Forum Trade Ministers also agreed, subject to Australian and New Zealand approval, that funding would be provided to allow up to four Forum Island country representatives for each negotiating issue to be considered at the inter-sessional meetings.

The Forum Trade Ministers considered the update provided on the operations of the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser. It was noted that the new Chief Trade Adviser would officially take up his post on 1 June 2012. Members thanked Australia and New Zealand for the conclusion of their respective funding agreements with Office of the Chief Trade Adviser and for the disbursement of the funds. Members thanked the OCTA for the technical support provided in progressing the PACER Plus negotiations and noted the plans for OCTA to increase its capacity to better support the FICs. Forum Trade Ministers congratulated Dr Kessie on his appointment as the Chief Trade Adviser to the Forum Island Countries, and thanked Dr Tijaja for the caretaker responsibility assumed in the interim.

Forum Trade Ministers noted the consultations undertaken with the Non State Actors on PACER Plus and the plans for future engagement. It was noted that the convening of the proposed Non State Actor workshop by the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser in the final quarter of 2012 would be subject to availability of funding.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat website contains more information on the second Non State Actor Dialogue held on PACER Plus.

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