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This is an archived webpage from 2009.

Pacific Under Pressure

Help make sure New Zealand plays fair in its trade deals with our Pacific neighbours.

Pacific countries are already feeling under pressure with trade negotiations taking place with the EU, but with great public support have maintained a strong stance. Now, New Zealand and Australia have initiated new trade negotiations under the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER), dubbed PACER Plus.

It’s vital that New Zealand supports a trading arrangement that will help the Pacific countries make the most of their trading opportunities, so they can use trade as a tool to lift people out of poverty. Writing a submission to our government is a very direct way of doing that. For more information, Oxfam has published a paper on PACER Plus, or you can incorporate some of the suggested points below. Submissions can be as long or short as you like, do not need to be wordy or technical and, if you’re using our guide below, will have more impact if you put into your own words.  

The government's website on PACER Plus has an online form, or submissions can be emailed or posted.

Points that could be included in a submission:

A new approach needed
The government has said that there should be a change from the trade policy approach of the past. This means that negotiators should start by finding out what Pacific countries want and work from there, rather than taking the “standard” free trade agreement approach.

Pacific set the agenda
The NZ Government should allow Pacific countries to set the pace, timing, and content of any trade agreement or trade related measures.

Adequate resources
The Government should ensure that Pacific governments are properly equipped to represent their own interests.

Alternatives considered
The NZ Government should actively consider alternatives to PACER Plus in the context of what is likely to deliver the best sustainable development outcomes for the Pacific, particularly if Pacific Island countries put forward such alternatives.

Pacific-led research
New Zealand should facilitate Pacific-led research on the likely social, political, economic, gender and environmental impacts of any measures being proposed before any deal is signed.

Time for consultations
Time should be allowed for a transparent process that is inclusive of men and women to enable Pacific governments to consult fully with their citizens prior to and during negotiations on issues that are likely to shape their economic future for generations to come.

Development at its core
Any trade agreement or arrangements should be seen as a framework for development and should assist Pacific Island countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Impacts on women and children accounted for
Trade impacts differently on men and women and it is crucial to ensure that any trade agreement, measures or financing do not have direct or indirect negative consequences for women and children.

Pacific able to regulate foreign investment
Any agreement must not remove the ability of governments to regulate foreign investment in the national interest, and allow Pacific governments the right to regulate commercial service providers so as to ensure universal provision, affordability, and high quality. These are important to meet the Millennium Development Goals and achieve gender equity.

New and existing industries protected
Any agreement should allow countries to protect infant industries. Governments must retain the right to use trade and investment policy as a tool to stimulate the development of manufacturing, processing or service industries - in particular the strategic use of tariffs and other trade policies to protect vulnerable local businesses and to stimulate new sectors.

New Zealand should act now
Where potentially beneficial measures for the Pacific are identified, New Zealand should make every effort to implement them as soon as possible, even if final negotiations are not yet concluded. For instance, we already know that barriers such as restrictive Rules of Origin and quarantine measures impede Pacific imports, so New Zealand should be working now to overcome these problems.

Minimise risks for Pacific
NZ negotiators should be sensitive to the substantial risks for the Pacific Islands of a trade agreement with the region’s two largest trading partners and seek to ensure that these risks are minimised and, where appropriate, compensated for.


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