PACER Plus an opportunity for regenerative development, trade, and investment in Vanuatu

28 Feb 2023

PORT VILA, Vanuatu – Vanuatu has taken a major step to boost its economy and improve the livelihood of its people by ratifying the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus.

PACER Plus, a unique development-centered trade and investment agreement between eight Pacific Island Countries and Australia and New Zealand, aims to reduce barriers to trade and investment, and promote economic development and prosperity in the region. Vanuatu's ratification of PACER Plus marks a major milestone in the country's commitment to trade and economic development.

The agreement is expected to bring significant economic benefits to Vanuatu's people and businesses but will require a change of mindset and a desire to change the way trade is implemented. It will reduce tariffs on goods traded with Australia and New Zealand, allowing for improved access to these markets. It will also provide the opportunity for Vanuatu to benefit from the services and investment markets of Australia and New Zealand, allowing for increased trade and foreign direct investment.

In addition, the agreement will help Vanuatu to diversify its economy, providing a boost to its tourism and agricultural sectors. It will also provide improved access to technology and knowledge, allowing for more efficient and productive businesses.

During the official launch of PACER Plus awareness workshop today, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, Hon. Jotham Napat said the benefits of ratifying PACER Plus are numerous.

"It will provide better job opportunities for the people of Vanuatu. It will open new avenues of employment for our people, helping to reduce poverty and improve the overall wellbeing of our community," said Mr. Napat.

Head of PACER Plus Implementation Unit and Labour Mobility Secretariat, Roy Lagolago, welcomed Vanuatu to the PACER Plus family, the tenth country to ratify the agreement.

"PACER Plus is unique compared to other trade agreements. Unique in that a dedicated secretariat – the PACER Plus Implementation Unit – has been set up to assist and support member parties to ensure the opportunities and benefits offered by PACER Plus are shared equally between all people by targeting and supporting more women, youth, and persons with disabilities to engage in trade. Ratifying PACER Plus is the easy part; the challenge for Vanuatu now is to unite and be clear on what they want to achieve to make the most of the opportunities that this agreement has to offer. We cannot continue to implement trade agreements in the same way and expect different results. That is why under PACER Plus, a different approach is required and we at the PACER Plus Implementation Unit stand ready to support Vanuatu towards that goal," said Mr. Lagolago.

Mr. Lagolago also announced that Vanuatu will be hosting the Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting (PLMAM) this year, the first time for Vanuatu to do so. The event will bring together policymakers, researchers, and industry leaders from across the Pacific to discuss the ongoing challenges and opportunities in labour mobility.

"The PLMAM is a vital platform for regional dialogue and cooperation on labour mobility, and we are delighted that Vanuatu will be hosting the event this year," he said.

The annual meeting aims to promote dialogue, collaboration, and innovation to improve the management of labour migration in the Pacific.