Meeting Discusses PACER Plus Benefits and Future

21 May 2024

APIA, Samoa – The seventh Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus Joint Committee meeting concluded on Friday, 17 May in Apia, Samoa. Hosted from 16-17 May 2024, this important gathering brought together high-level government officials from the ten PACER Plus parties: Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. This year's meeting marked the second in-person gathering of the Joint Committee, following the one chaired by Niue in 2023.

The seventh PACER Plus Joint Committee Meeting brought together high-level government officials from the ten PACER Plus member countries in Apia, Samoa. (Courtesy of Samoa Government)

The PACER Plus Joint Committee, which serves as the governing body for the PACER Plus trade agreement, focused on the implementation of the Development and Economic Cooperation (DEC) Work Programme. The DEC Work Programme outlines the AU$25 million assistance from Australia and New Zealand provided to the PACER Plus parties to implement the agreement. It has six components linked to different aspects of the agreement, identifying expected outcomes for each component. The PACER Plus Joint Committee Meeting agenda included reviewing reports on the implementation of the chapters of the agreement and the Arrangement on Labour Mobility. Additionally, the meeting adopted the annual plan and budget for the financial year 2024-2025 and discussed the future of the DEC Work Programme post-2025.

Mrs. Peseta Noumea Simi, the Chief Executive Officer of Samoa's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, chaired the meeting. In her opening remarks, Mrs. Simi emphasised the importance of evaluating the PACER Plus effectiveness in facilitating trade and the movement of workers within the region.

"We must take a deep dive into determining whether the PACER Plus agreement has delivered its anticipated outcomes. Our focus should be on ensuring that our economic cooperation translates into tangible benefits for all member countries," said Mrs. Simi.

Mr. Roy Lagolago, Head of the PACER Plus Implementation Unit (PPIU), highlighted the achievements of the past three years despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This financial year 2023-2024 is the first full year of implementation, and we have made significant progress in strengthening regional trade and economic cooperation," Mr. Lagolago stated.

The CEO of Samoa's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and chairperson of the seventh PACER Plus Joint Committee Meeting, Mrs. Peseta Noumea Simi (left), with the Head of the PACER Plus Implementation Unit, Mr. Roy Lagolago.

Representatives from the PACER Plus parties shared their insights and experiences regarding the impact of the agreement on their respective countries:

  • Mr. Joe Pakoa Lui, Director of External Trade with Vanuatu's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, and External Trade: "Vanuatu continues to support PACER Plus as a framework to support Vanuatu in its commitment to regional economic integration. We've commenced implementation of our activities under PACER Plus and we've seen progress in trade facilitation, particularly with customs and rules of origin."
  • Ms. Doreen Siataga, Financial Secretary with Niue's Ministry of Finance and Planning: "Niue has benefited from various activities funded under the PACER Plus agreement and is very grateful for the support provided in meeting country requests. For example, adoption of ASYCUDA World, a customs management system, to strengthen revenue collection, providing harvest bins to local growers to minimise post-harvest damage and exploring intra-regional labour mobility opportunities to address severe labour shortages across all sectors. Niue remains committed to implementing obligations under the agreement as well as national activities approved in the annual plan."
  • Ms. Koaa Ekeata, Deputy Secretary with Kiribati's Ministry of Tourism, Commerce, Industry, and Cooperatives: "Kiribati has benefited from the capacity building efforts provided by PACER Plus, especially the trainings on electronic phytosanitary certificates and ASYCUDA World."

The meeting concluded with the announcement that Solomon Islands will host the next PACER Plus Joint Committee Meeting in 2025.


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