The Fiji government has stressed the need to thoroughly assess the fairness and effectiveness of the PACER Plus agreement before joining it.
Trade Minister Manoa Kamikamica emphasised this point following a meeting of Pacific Trade Ministers in Suva last week.
Responding to a query from FBC News regarding measures to ensure Fiji’s satisfaction and the protection of Pacific Island nations from potential trade pressures.
PACER Plus, a comprehensive development-focused free trade pact involving Australia, New Zealand had been previously suspended by the previous government due to concerns over its fairness to the Pacific Island Countries.
Kamikamica affirmed the government’s awareness of these lingering concerns and pledged to work towards ensuring that Fiji derives tangible benefits from the agreement.
“There is no compulsion to join PACER. But we thought given that we are a new government, we will consider or evaluate PACER again but as you alluded to some of the concerns that are currently prevalent in Fiji and those concerns still remain.”
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Deputy Secretary General Esala Nayasi highlights that discussions about PACER Plus will continue with regional leaders.
“So it will continue to be an issue for the region so as the the Deputy Prime Minister the focus of today’s meeting was more on the proposed regional strategy.”
Critics argue that one of the foundational principles of the proposed agreement fails to account for the economic realities of small island developing states.
The government’s commitment to a thorough evaluation reflects a cautious approach to this trade deal.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS