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The dark side of the trade deal

Pacific nations can open up markets without help of our big brothers

THE Pacific Network on Globalisation has been vocal on its opposition to the PACER-Plus trade agreement. It has been at the forefront of civil society objections and the call for a more just regional trade framework which will boost economies and help Pacific people.

Netani Rika spoke to PANG Director, Maureen Penjueli

ISLANDS BUSINESS: Proponents of PACER-Plus sell the concept as an agreement which will solve regional trade imbalance. What are the disadvantages of such an agreement to Pacific countries? MAUREEN PENJUELI: Australia and New Zealand already dominate trade within the region, particularly in Melanesia and Polynesia, and PACER-Plus is set to exacerbate that.

The Pacific already enjoys duty-free and quota-free market access to Australia and New Zealand under SPARTECA yet have been unable to really take advantage of such access except for Fiji and Samoa due to nontrade barriers. PACER-Plus is doing little to address that and in fact the commitments on technical barriers to trade and quarantine standards will help streamline Australian and New Zealand goods into the Pacific, worsening the imbalance in trade.

The ratio of food imports to exports from Australia and New Zealand paint a grim picture. For example, Dr. Jagjit Phale and Mr Wendell Cornwall warn Solomon Islands of worsening trade imbalance from food imports from Australia and New Zealand at a staggering 95.3 and 12.7 times their exports respectively.

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