Apr 11, 2021 Last Updated 4:12 AM, Apr 8, 2021

Throwing coal on the fire

  • Apr 11, 2021
  • Published in January

By New Year’s Day, Australia was on fire. There were more than 200 fires burning across the country, from Western Australia to the east coast states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

Since the start of the fire season, more than ten million hectares of land have been burnt out – an area nearly six times the size of Fiji or New Caledonia.

And from coffee sales to alumni dinners, Pacific islanders have rallied to the assistance of their Australian ‘vuvale’ affected by the bushfires. PNG and Fiji are also sending soldiers to work with the Australian Defence Force on the ground.

The fundraising efforts, from small community-driven initiatives to larger government-coordinated programs, prompted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to acknowledge the “the loving response from our Pacific family”.

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Death of Pacific Regionalism?

  • Apr 11, 2021
  • Published in Sep-Oct

THE theme going into Tuvalu’s Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting from 12-16 August 2019 was: ‘Securing our Future in the Pacific.’ This was to be uniquely focussed and framed around climate change. Even the China issue, the other matter of disquiet in the region, was to be side-lined on this occasion. From what transpired from the meeting – what was said and the manner of the utterances, the results clearly fell short of expectations. Aided somewhat by crude remarks by those not even at the meeting and the immeasurable damage they caused to regional and interpersonal relations, it can be concluded that the realisation of that theme was hugely frustrated.

The frustration peaked when leaders realised that when it came to a regional threat that had been collectively acknowledged as existential, there was still a deep and wide gulf that existed regarding how to contain the threat. The gulf emerged from the inability of leaders to reconcile regionality of issues and solutions with their respective national/factional politics. The politics appeared to be infused with a duality of meaning that engendered indifference. The gulf may not be bridgeable.

The implication therefore is that the Forum has not been able to secure the future it wants. The region remains unsafe. Climate change continues as an existential threat. Sea levels will continue to rise to inundate atoll nations and coastal urban conurbations. Viewed in the context of the pedestrian growth of Pacific regionalism in the last 48 years, and given the inherent contradictions of the structure and composition of the Forum, and the renewed vigour of misgivings expressed on the utility Death of Pacific Regionalism? and coherency of regionalism itself, it can be said that we are seeing the death throes of Pacific regionalism.

The question on the coherence and sustainability of Pacific regionalism is not new. Some regional commentators have questioned the wisdom of including Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) - developed countries and OECD members, in the South Pacific Forum established in 1971 that comprised five Pacific Island Countries (PICs) – developing and least developed countries. The wide diversity of developmental status of members and differential degrees of integration into the world economy have created a dichotomy between ANZ and the PICs. This has caused great difficulties in reconciling and managing the interests of members.

And when you factor in the political economy aspects of the Forum, you can then appreciate the immensity of the forces that tend to divide the members rather than those that unite them. Further, one is also able to see the disparate distribution of power, sphere of influence, incentives and resources across the membership.

The fragility of the situation depicted above is not helped by the kind of regionalism that members have chosen to adopt. Pacific regionalism is voluntary. Members are not legally committed to any of the decisions they make at the regional level. The implementation of regional decisions at the national levels, with full support of concomitant national policies, structures and resources is a luxury that, unfortunately, lags far behind expectations. Consequently, there are implementation gaps galore at the national levels.

Furthermore, Pacific regionalism has been bedevilled in the past by its inconsistency of meeting the requirements of the various tests required for efficient and effective regional action. This included its inability to effectively manage the risks involved in the transfer of national sovereignty to the regional level.

The values and objectives of “The Framework for Pacific Regionalism’ (FPR) that replaced the ‘Pacific Plan’ are being undermined. One of the FPR’s values is ‘mutual accountability and respect’. The divide caused by the lack of unity on climate change as an existential threat under the Boe Declaration has put paid to this worthy principle. Similarly, the ‘integrity of our vast ocean and our island resources’ is being undermined through members’ factional interests that evince regional incoherence and deep-seated division.

The FPR’s Objective of ‘Economic growth that is inclusive and equitable’ is failing the region, according to the First Quadrennial Pacific Sustainable Development Report. As regards ‘sustainable development,’ the United Nations regional chief said last July that ‘Asia and Pacific (are) on course to miss all Sustainable Development Goals.’

The question raised above and its implications on the regional architecture of Pacific regionalism has provoked wide discussions in the past. Fiji’s Prime Minister (PM) Bainimarama, for example in 2014, had raised a question on ANZ membership of the Forum and decided to boycott all Forum Leaders’ meetings. When questioned on the reason he was attending the Funafuti meeting in August, he replied that the Forum was reaching a new stage in its development with both ANZ picking up on their respective relations with PICs with Australia’s Step Up and New Zealand’s Pacific Reset strategies.

However, his sense of revitalised optimism evaporated in Tuvalu. He is now, again, calling for a review of the late regional architecture. In the same vein, late Prime Minister Pohiva of Tonga was not equally dispirited by the shenanigans of Funafuti. He wondered whether regionalism was just a myth. Coincidently, however, PM Bainimarama’s call for a review of the regional architecture has come after the Forum Leaders had agreed to developing a 2050 strategic plan for the Forum.

Obviously, the details of the plan have yet to be worked out. Given all that has happened – the highs and lows since 1971, the lessons picked up along the way, the big questions about the utility and ethics of regionalism itself, the efficacy of the Forum’s current membership composition, the new regional and global challenges and related geopolitics, it is prudent that whilst formulating a new long-term plan, a new regional architecture is also considered.

In this exercise, bold decisions to frame a new architecture are called for. Ideas have been presented in the past by various regional commentators. PM Sopoanga himself conceived his idea of the ‘United States of the Pacific’ recently and I have discussed the same, (see June 2019). 

Tim Marshall wrote in 2015 that an unwritten law in diplomacy is that when faced with what’s considered an existential threat, a great power will use force. In the context of the Forum, by way of an analogy, the members declared climate change as an existential threat during the 2018 Leaders’ Forum in Nauru. They opted therefore to garner their collective force of intent, purpose and number to create the power to counter the threat through the provisions of the Boe Declaration that was adopted at the meeting. However, that public gesture of collective force in adoption of the Declaration did not translate to Leader’s collective determination to make good its provisions. 

There is disunity within the collective. The collective’s power is stymied. The collective itself has been manifesting malaise that points to, inter alia, inherent structural and compositional flaws. In the meantime, intense geopolitics in the region require a self-re-examination of the Forum with fresh vigour, purpose and destiny. The proposed 2050 strategic plan needs to look seriously at refitting Pacific regionalism anew for the new challenges tomorrow.

* The author is a former Fiji ambassador and Foreign Minister and runs his own consultancy company in Suva, Fiji.

THE following opinion piece by Fiji solicitor, Filimoni Vosarogo is a response to the reported detention and questioning of a 16-year-old boy for allegedly writing vulgar language on the back of a bus, which was aimed at Fiji’s Prime Minister. The boy was reportedly taken in through a ‘citizen’s arrest’ enacted by two Fiji Military Forces soldiers.

THE case of a 16-year-old being shuffled off into a vehicle by unknown men despite the protest of his aunt is an act of ‘thuggery.’ No one should be allowed to act with such impunity and not be answerable for it, servants of the law or not. For a few days, we waited for details of the so-called arrest and or investigation into the bus dirt writing. People called for an investigation and update. Then as surely as water down a creek, it all seems to arrive to the sea of public knowledge. Fiji’s Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination (HRADC) Director said he communicated with the Police Commissioner and was told they are investigating. What they are saying really is – hold off, we are doing our job! HRADC Director then reminds the public to understand such process, as we should all try to avoid trial by media. That, I understand! (for now, I will come back to you Mr Director in a while in the case of Bulitavu).

Within days, the Police Commissioner (COMPOL) comes out publicly, in the media and issues a press release, even praising the ‘off duty military officers’ who responded to what we are made to assume was a call of duty to investigate a young offender (defined in Section 2 of the Juvenile Act 1973 as a person between 14 – 18 years) for alleged offences. We are not informed to date, what they are! So, if they were officially required for a statutory duty, why was there a reference to private or citizen’s arrest in the press release. From the release, it looks as if the men were conducting a ‘citizen’s arrest’! Surely, the COMPOL hadn’t been advised properly or that the drafters think, well, if we give the public such big words and sections of the law and God forbid, the Constitution, no one would question it. Well, not this time! Let me unpack these reasonings to see if the skeleton argument could stand.

For a citizen’s arrest to be lawfully made, the offence has to be committed in the presence of the person effecting the arrest. So, there is the procedural and evidentiary requirement of contemporaneity of the suspected crime or crimes and the arrest, not days later. Secondly, one can only effect citizen arrest for an indictable offence.

Let me put this at rest now. No possible offence under the Public Order Act 1969 nor any under the Crimes Act 2009 that could possibly be charged for the bus dirt writing is indictable – period! If the press release drafters are referring to the same Section 22 of the CPA 2009 I know, someone slept through that criminal law class, not me! (I’d have to admit, I had my fair share of sleeps in criminal law and procedure, they tend to get boring by the hour). All in all, it was a mish mash of reasoning, singularly could be capable of belief if packaged right but collectively, designed to pull wool over people’s eyes. 

Back to the 16-year-old. No parent or guardian should ever have to face this type of impunity again at the hands or force of State officers, authorised or not. Too much power in the hands of a few always result in tyranny. These men who by force effected the arrest with such arrogance of the law, may not know of the historical and horrendous era of decades of tyrannical powers in the earth’s vast continents in the past and their damage, but historians and legislators alike from nations who have risen from such times have called and treasured from their experience, ‘human beings must always be jealous and guard their liberty at all cost.’ They are too costly to lose! 

That is why the bill of rights in our constitution, by virtue of it being a negative document, is never to be read as the government giving us freedoms. It is not! It is the people, through the constitution-making process, giving the government a set of enumerated powers, we all agree to as limitation to our inalienable rights and freedoms. It is upon those limitations, and only on those limitations, can the government act on limiting it.

There was no reason on earth, why the police themselves didn’t make the arrest, if there was reasonable cause to suspect an offence was committed. When it comes to young offenders, policing takes on a different shade altogether. Parents or guardians are required by law to be present.

The safeguards of Section 13 of the Constitution must be applied, if he was indeed, lawfully arrested. The Social Welfare Director becomes involved in certain cases as guardian ad litem. These are matters that these macho men know no ounce about in effecting their own brand of arrest. That is why there is a specific Juvenile Bureau in the Police Force, they know of procedure and of how to deal with them. The Police was better equipped to deal with the issue and for want of reason, how they were not involved in the investigation baffles me. 

Now to the Constitutional powers of the Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) having overall security of the nation responsibility and the rest of it. Yes, I have read Section 129 and 131 of the Constitution, dealing with the powers of the COMPOL and Commander RFMF (CRMF) respectively. No, I don’t agree with the drafted press release on the application of Section 131 – CRFMF powers. 

The press release appears to suggest that for a single suspected breach of the law by a young offender (and only suspected), the power of the Commander had to be activated, as if the thousands of police officers, were incompetent to handle it. To ensure that security, defence and well-being of Fiji and all Fijians is by construction, a law designed to give the Commander the power to ensure that at no time or hour, borders, zones or homes are endangered by external elements and or invading forces.

The section doesn’t mean what the press release drafters think it meant. The section is a protection law designed against external invasion, to say it in modern warfare terms. Internal domestic policing of crimes or any other law where the result of which is, an interrogative process designed to go to the courts, is governed by the Police Act 1965 and the CPA 2009 and that is squarely, the police’s responsibility. The law is never designed to bring confusion. COMPOL is policing. CRFMF is defence of nation. This applies to their respective employs. The law always maintain connection to common sense to remain humane and it is hoped, we have all come down to that common understanding on the application of Section 129 and 131 of the two most important roles of COMPOL and CRFMF. 

I mentioned to start with that I wondered what offence or offences has been committed here. At best, against what law? The drafted press release makes reference to the Public Order Act 1969 (supposedly, because it is the Act that gives allowance, not direct powers to act but only if certain pre-conditions been met, for military officers can arrest people - none of which was met in this story). You all know there isn’t any breach there!

Has the young offender taken an unlawful oath? Control of arms and ammunition? Meeting or procession breaches? Terrorism offences? Disturbance, malicious acts, incitement to violence or inciting racial antagonism? I have just laid out the general spectrum of public order offences and clearly, bus-dirt writing isn’t any of the above. So, there was no justification on those military officers acting parochially and with egotism to arrest a young offender, barely two years after, graduating as a child by law.

The boy, if indeed, he was the offender, needs to show respect. No one, including any in his family would want their names on a back of a bus like that. He hasn’t committed the summary offence of damaging property (the closest to what he may have done which is graffiti) but he may have annoyed a person. That, if indeed proved is a summary offence, the young offender must apologise for it and the parents or guardians must make such undertaking to ensure that they would teach him patterns of citizenry of which his family may be known for.

I write this as a parent to three teenage boys. To hear that able-bodied men come to your house and act as if they are not accountable to anyone, show force and threatening by their presence and remove without your knowledge and consent one of your sons should never be tolerated in our society. 

One wonders what motive theycarried. Don’t they realise that parents these days fear the repetition of soldiers taking a young person away, who later dies of internal head injuries from the punishment inflicted on him? It is sickening that it continues to be done with impunity. You should be ashamed of your actions. You should go and apologise to the young boy’s family. You should – if you are a father yourselves or becoming one! 

As for you Mr Raj, double standard. You encourage restraint in this case to remove any possibility of trial by media but in the Bulitavu case, you were in the media well before the police even acted and began investigating, culminating in the interview. You like the ‘officers’ I can only whisper the famous Lord Denning casting line ‘Be you never so high the law is above you.’



JULIAN Agnon of Blue Ocean Law recently penned ‘Enduring Colonization: How France’s Ongoing Control of French Polynesian Resources Violates the International Law of Self-Determination.’ The paper however is silent on the other French territories of New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna. For New Caledonia, its route to independence is mapped out under the Noumea Accord and the laws impacting its resources may vary from those of French Polynesia. Wallis and Futuna has no equivalent accord. But all are listed under Part Four of the Treaty establishing the European Community as France’s overseas territories.

Such a claim of violation by France is likely to hit a raw nerve in the psyche of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) members, particularly of Forum Island Countries (FICs) that are actively galvanising for French decolonisation at the United Nations. The legal verification of the violation, tendered by Agnon, will add fuel to the decolonisation process in the Pacific.

PIF, in the first place, has to manage the situation presented here. At first, when French Polynesia and New Caledonia became PIF members, by way of a consensus resolution which was subsequently acknowledged as being political, it was envisaged by some that this might undermine decolonisation efforts in the Pacific. This was concluded because once those two French territories were let into the PIF, it would lead to increased presence of metropolitan France in regional affairs of the Forum and the dynamics of regional decisions could change to accommodate the French voice.

However, the concern generated by the Agnon paper is fundamental to the whole question on the decolonisation process and is likely to raise strategic complications on how PIF members should accommodate this French voice. How can FICs, for example, persist at the UN to push for decolonisation when the prospects of increased French influence as a development partner, are increasingly being programmed into regional activities? How can they support Pacific churches who have recently raised their call for decolonisation of French Polynesia in particular?

As can be expected, the clash between bilateral and regional considerations will, inevitably, come into play. Geopolitics will intrude. How can PIF members, especially PICs, reconcile these considerations? There are those, supposedly, that can compartmentalise these considerations and make judicious regional decisions. It may not be easy. But it is doable.

However there are those who will find it difficult. Australia, for instance, had sought French engagement in the Indo-Pacific geostrategic framework and continued to do so, as reported by The Australian last June. Australia, therefore, may not rock the French boat. New Zealand is likely to do the same given it had indicated its acquiescence to Australia when both had consulted prior to the imposition of Indo-Pacific.

Papua New Guinea can be capricious. When its former Prime Minister had a state visit to Paris in 2016, he was reported to have said that he “would like to see PNG become a significant hub for France in the Pacific.” That bilateral sentiment that frames national issues can get in the way of decisions to grow and unite Pacific regionalism under its current Framework (The Framework for Pacific Regionalism).

Vanuatu, on the other hand, can be a fence-sitter on regional issues and decisions aimed at circumscribing French engagement in Pacific regionalism. Ni-Vanuatu are beneficiaries of a new French initiative to travel visa-free to New Caledonia. Furthermore, considering the country’s condominium history involving France and Great Britain and the remnants of the colonial shared power structure on ni-Vanuatu and their culture, it can be envisaged that their balancing act of fence sitting can topple on the side of the metropolitan player that happens to be the flavour of the month. This can be favourable or unfavourable depending on the issue being discussed.

In retrospect, however, such undermining of Pacific regionalism is not new. The sapping of PIF’s foundation through the preponderance of national and bilateral sentiments

over regional ones has frustrated PIF for years since its inception. A careful and systematic political and economic analysis of PIF, under various popularly-used analytical lens including, for instance, ‘Actors, political elites, agency and incentives’, will verify this.

That is one question, albeit a critical one, that the Forum and its Secretariat, PIFS, will have to address. There are others, equally vexatious.

French decolonisation, by virtue of its particularity in the context of Pacific regionalism, is considered a bilateral issue – that between PIF members on one side and France, on the other. The subject matter may not be relevant for the collective Forum Dialogues partners. PIF/PIFS may need to programme a specific bilateral, or a series of bilaterals with France, to raise the matter. In the same way PIF/PIFS needs a special bilateral with Indonesia to raise the issue of West Papua.

The French voice in regional matters has become more vocal since the membership of French Polynesia and New Caledonia in 2016. There have been reports of French insistence to be heard in matters relating to the authority and management of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of those two PIF members. The Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is grappling with this matter when it comes to related regional fisheries management.

Furthermore, the use of the French language in regional meetings apart from those of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has been raised. It appears that this comes across with a carrot on a stick. It is reported that the new PIF members would even pay for the introduction of the language and for all the concomitant facilities this requires. The offer of payment however has attracted unsolicited speculation: that this would
amount to resources being directly disbursed from the treasury of the metropolitan.

When all is considered, the French language is already a language of the Pacific, and of Pacific regionalism. SPC is a member of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP), chaired by the PIFS Secretary General and it uses French as one of its two working languages. It can be envisaged therefore that inclusion of the French language to all other PIF meetings is possible but complex and costly in terms of staffing, equipment and logistics.

However, linguistics aside, in the context of still-raw French colonial and post-colonial sentiments, this appears like a red rag to a bull. It is debated in some circles that if French is added as a lingua franca, why not any of the national languages of the Pacific Island Countries? Or why not one of the existing patois?

Another vexatious question confronting PIF/PIFS is how to manage logistically the negotiations for a post-Cotonou agreement. The Pacific ACP (PACP) States have started their negotiations with the EU on a Pacific-EU Protocol. Neither French Polynesia nor New Caledonia is included in PACP States that negotiate directly with the EU despite their PIF membership. They cannot therefore sit with PACP States during the negotiations.
They do however sit as members of PIF and could have access to sensitive information about the negotiations. Management of such information by PIF and also by the Forum Secretariat staff plays a critical role here.

To date, French territories have always had their separate provisions under various ACP-EU agreements since Lome 1. How will French Polynesia and New Caledonia be treated now that they are members of PIF?

The author is a former Fijian ambassador and Foreign Minister and runs his own consultancy company in Suva, Fiji.

PHAMA Plus was launched in Suva on 11 April 2019 although it has been operating since 1 November 2018. The ‘Plus’ tag signifies that it is a follow-up to the original PHAMA, which is the acronym for Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access. This multi-country Aid for Trade (AfT) programme is funded by Australia and New Zealand. Like all AfT funding, it is aimed at helping developing countries, in particular Least Developed
Countries, to build trade capacity and the infrastructure they need to benefit from trade.

AfT is an initiative of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It was launched in 2005 at the WTO Conference in Hong Kong. Its taskforce was established the year after in 2006, and 2007 saw its first stage of implementation. The following year indicators were formulated to help with its monitoring. The 2015 WTO Conference in Nairobi further boosted its recognition and importance. Annual monitoring of AfT since 2009 had been conducted to achieve specific developmental outcomes. For example for 2009, the theme was ‘maintaining momentum’ and for 2010 it was ‘showing results.’

The original PHAMA started in 2011. Initially, an AusAIDfunded initiative, NZAID joined later. The initiative focused on five Pacific island countries (PICs): Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. At the time, only Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tonga were WTO contracting parties. Samoa and Vanuatu became contracting parties in 2012. Papua New Guinea became a beneficiary of the initiative later, and had been a WTO contracting party since 1996.

The original PHARMA facility ran for seven years to 2018. It’s goal “was to increase exports of fresh and value-added agricultural products, contributing to economic growth and improved rural livelihoods. There were three main expected outcomes: (i) increased export volumes, (ii) better farmgate prices, and (iii) protection of existing export markets.” The new PHAMA Plus Program provides a ‘Country Strategy Note’ (CSN) for each beneficiary countries, in which evaluations of the outcomes, and more, are discussed in detail.

In retrospect, each of these PICs has reasons to be positive about the results of PHAMA. In Vanuatu, the last of the PICs above to become a WTO contracting party, PHAMA’s main contributions were in kava, beef, cocoa, sandalwood, handicrafts, beekeeping and food safety.

Vanuatu’s CSN has this to say on ‘food safety’: “PHAMA provided support for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) accreditation of three businesses and a HACCP Train-the-Trainer course to build industry and government capacity.” HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe and designs measures to reduce these risks to a safe level.

PHAMA Plus extends its facilities to the six original beneficiaries of PHAMA as well as to the small island states of the Forum on ratifying the PACER Plus trade agreement.

PHAMA Plus is an A$36million investment spanning four years (2018-2022). It has three end-of-program outcomes: (i) producers and exporters use maintained and new export market access for Pacific export products; (ii) women and men exporters, processors and producers adopt quality and productivity enhancing innovations for their export products, and (iii) women and men staff of Pacific biosecurity authorities perform their market
access facilitation functions better.

For Vanuatu, PHAMA Plus continues the momentum of PHAMA. Eleven sectors were proposed for coverage – from agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forestry and handicrafts. However, for more effective management and approach, these sectors are being grouped into four categories.

Such commitment by Australia and New Zealand, two developed WTO contracting parties, is notable for three reasons. Firstly, Fiji and PNG, despite pulling out from PACER Plus, remain as beneficiaries under PHAMA Plus. Their continued involvement could be justified on the basis of their previous benefit under PHAMA, and because there is still more to be done. Furthermore, they are important trading partners for Australia, New Zealand and the region, under inter-Pacific island countries trade. Under Pacific regionalism and Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) sub-regionalism, for example, the contribution by these two PICs to economic integration would be immense. Inter-Pacific island countries trade in the region is currently conducted under the Pacific Islands Trade Agreement (PICTA). For the sub-region it is conducted under the MSG Trade Agreement (MSGTA).

An additional justification is that both Fiji and PNG are WTO contracting parties, like Australia and New Zealand, albeit developing contracting parties. As developed contracting partners, Australia and New Zealand would have drawn on their commitment to helping developing WTO contracting parties from the relevant provisions and spirit of GATT 1947 – the principal WTO guide for the negotiations of Free Trade Agreements (FTA) - especially Article XXIV (Territorial Application – Frontier Traffic – Customs Unions and Free-trade Areas, Article XXV (Joint Action by the Contracting Parties), Part IV: Trade and Development – Article XXXVI (Principles and Objectives), Article XXXVII (Commitments), and Article XXXVIII (Joint Action).

The second reason why Australia and New Zealand’s commitment under PHAMA Plus is of note is that both have agreed to extend this facility to non-WTO contracting parties in general – to small island states, when they ratify PACER Plus. This includes eight Pacific island countries that participated in the PACER Plus negotiations: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu. Of these, five have signed PACER Plus and are working towards ratification.

The situation that has evolved is not an afterthought. Australia and New Zealand agreed during the PACER Plus negotiations that they would commit resources for AfT. They would have been driven by their sense of commitment - explicit and implicit, in the GATT articles above. Furthermore, they would have been driven by their commitment to Pacific regionalism, especially regional economic integration as they had done over the years through trade and economic instruments like the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA) (1981), Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) (2003) and PACER Plus (2017).

During the PACER Plus negotiations, Australia pledged an AfT funding target for the Pacific of 20% of Pacific Official Development Assistance (ODA). New Zealand pledged a similar percentage of its total ODA.

The third and final reason why Australia and New Zealand’s commitment is of note is the interactions of different initiatives at play here. An original bilateral initiative by AusAID, in response to its multilateral commitment, became extended bilateral aid with NZAID in the greater interest of Pacific regionalism. The combined facility proved effective and is now extended. It has become a specific tool for multilateralism, from whence it came, and with which Australia and New Zealand can aspire to assist even those countries that are not members of that multilateral body.

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