Minister of Climate Change and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Ham Lini, has called on Australia and New Zealand to keep their promise to pay each country the promised

“AUD$7.7 million Readiness Package to be made available to signatories between signature and entry into force” of PACER Plus.

The Minister made the call when he launched the day-long National Consultations on PACER Plus at Holiday Inn yesterday.

“I call upon Australia and New Zealand to announce an Aid for Trade package which reflects the comprehensive nature of the Agreement and the new opportunities expected to arise from it,” he said.

As a former Minister of Trade, he said, “The Vanuatu Government is of the firm view that PACER Plus has the potential to provide a platform for economic transformation and diversification of our economy”.

PACER Plus is development-oriented with the objective of facilitating economic growth and sustain development in the parties which are the Forum Island Countries (FICs).

The Minister said the nature of the Agreement is reflected in many special and differential treatment provisions in favour of Forum Island Countries.

“It is envisaged that PACER Plus will assist us to address factors hindering our participation in international trade and build our productive capacity to trade,” he said.

“It is expected that such an extensive scope will provide an integrated platform for conducting international trade, enabling the Parties to better harness opportunities in regional economic integration.”

The negotiations on fifteen chapters demonstrates the commitment of the parties to the conclusion of the negotiations and has been endorsed early this month in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, by Forum Leaders.

“Although I welcome the progress that has been made in the negotiations to address some of these constraints, I must underscore the absolute importance of ensuring that the remaining constraints are addressed in a holistic manner within the PACER Plus framework for PACER Plus to be meaningful and beneficial for us,” he explained.

“In this regard, I welcome the Development and Economic Cooperation Chapter and its associated Implementing Arrangement and Work Programme, which provide a framework for the provision of not only implementation assistance, but also broader trade and investment-related assistance by Australia and New Zealand to Vanuatu and other Forum Island Countries.”

He said Vanuatu considers that the envisaged benefits from PACER Plus may remain elusive without a complementary package of targeted assistance.

He concluded, “Vanuatu is committed to working with other FICs, Australia and New Zealand to address the remaining issues of concerns to the FICs and ensure the conclusion of PACER Plus by December 2016”.

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