PACER Plus is unique in that it is both a trade and a development agreement, and negotiations have been underway since 2009.
The Cook Islands has been an active participant in the negotiations since 2009 with engagement coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) in close consultation with other key government agencies, private sector and civil society. Finance Minister Mark Brown headed the Cook Islands delegation to the Trade Ministers meeting and met with counterpart ministers, including Australia’s trade minister Steven Ciobo, in advance of Thursday’s discussion.
“We are committed to concluding a high quality trade and development agreement which we see as having the potential to create new opportunities for trade and investment in the Cook Islands and the Pacific region,” Brown said heading into the meeting. “It is important that we as a region find a resolution to the outstanding issues related to market access.
“The longer these debates continue the more opportunity cost we as a region incur. It is vital that ministers are able to provide clear direction to gain the wider benefit of the PACER Plus agreement.” Australia and New Zealand have committed to providing funding to Forum island countries to assist with the implementation of obligations under the agreement and to address broader trade related needs. The outcomes of the Ministerial Meeting will be considered by Forum Leaders when they meet in Micronesia next month and negotiations are expected to conclude this year. - Release