PACER Plus Ministers Meeting: Advancing Regional Economic Integration and Membership Expansion
28 Jul 2023
APIA, Samoa – The Ministerial representatives of the Parties to the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus) convened virtually on 26 July 2023 under the chairmanship of Hon. Crossley Tatui, Minister for Infrastructure and Finance for Niue. The meeting saw government ministers and representatives from the 10 PACER Plus Parties – Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu – along with representatives from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. Regrettably, Tuvalu conveyed their apologies as they were unable to attend.
Ministers took note of the significant achievements and progress made by the PACER Plus Implementation Unit and Labour Mobility Secretariat in delivering the annual work programme for FY2022-2023. Recognising the importance of supporting Pacific private sector businesses and enhancing their participation in regional and international trade, Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to realising the benefits of PACER Plus. The principles of inclusion, mutually agreed priorities, complementarity with existing regional activities, value for money, and timely support for economic recovery remained central to their approach.
Expanding the members of PACER Plus was acknowledged as a valuable step towards enhancing regional economic integration. The Ministers emphasized that this expansion would foster more efficient and cost-effective supply chains, open up access to intra-regional and international markets, and attract foreign investment while boosting the positive impact of labour mobility. With keen interest from Nauru and other Forum Island Countries in ratifying the PACER Plus, the Ministers tasked the PACER Plus Implementation Unit and Labour Mobility Secretariat to actively engage these countries and facilitate their accession.
The Ministers also highlighted the importance of addressing trade, investment, and labour mobility issues through streamlined regional activities that benefit all parties involved. Recognising the limitations in human resources and technical capacity within both public and private sectors, as well as the constraints in economic infrastructure and supply chain robustness, they underscored the need for coordinated efforts to implement reforms and capitalise on opportunities.
Regarding labour mobility, the Ministers lauded the progress in the delivery of the labour mobility work program for Financial Year 2022-2023 and endorsed the activity plan for Financial Year 2023-2024. They acknowledged that these initiatives contributed directly to the development of a regional and holistic labour mobility policy and explored new opportunities for Pacific labour receiving countries. Emphasizing the value of the Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting (PLMAM) in facilitating effective regional cooperation, the Ministers committed to supporting the implementation of agreed regional initiatives.
Additionally, the Government of the United Kingdom's offer to provide technical expertise to support the implementation of the Development and Economic Work Programme was acknowledged with appreciation.
The Chair of the PACER Plus Ministers Meeting, Hon. Crossley Tatui, stated: "The PACER Plus agreement remains crucial for our region's economic growth and prosperity. By working together and coordinating our efforts, we can harness the full potential of PACER Plus to enhance trade, investment, and labour mobility, ultimately improving the lives of our people across the Pacific."
The Ministers' commitment to realising the benefits of PACER Plus and advancing regional economic integration promises a brighter future for the Pacific, fostering sustainable socio-economic development and resilience against global challenges.
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