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Doubts over PACER Plus

Trade adviser defends agreement

“THERE is no reason to doubt the sincerity of Australia and New Zealand in relation to the commitments they have undertaken” PACER Plus, when it comes into force, does not mean island nations will be unable to impose duty on imported goods from Australia and New Zealand, the Chief Trade Adviser to the Pacific Islands Dr Edwini Kessie has clarified. So long as these import duties are not imposed in a discriminatory manner, island members of PACER Plus when operational should be able to impose excise duty, value added taxes and any other internal taxes they have.

“In Trade in Goods, whereas Australia and New Zealand have committed to binding all their tariffs at zero, the FICs would have the flexibility not to reduce tariffs on their most sensitive products, including high revenue-generating items. Thus the Parties would be assuming asymmetrical obligations,” explains Dr Kessie. “There is no requirement that the Forum island Countries should eliminate all their duties. Estimates of tariff losses made by some NGOs are exaggerated in that respect.

There will be provisions in the Agreement which would enable the Forum Island Countries to give protection to their infant industries. “In the areas of trade in services and investment, there is agreement among the Parties to use a positive list to schedule their commitments. This essentially means that countries will have the right to select which sectors they want to give commitments and impose any limitations or restrictions.” 

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