4 Aug 2015

NGOs want PACER Plus talks to stop

2:21 pm on 4 August 2015

Civil society organisations in the Pacific are calling for a suspension to PACER PLUS negotiations and the immediate release of all negotiation texts to the public.

The call comes as the latest round of talks on the free trade deal get underway in Samoa with the focus on labour mobility, development assistance and trade in goods.

The Pacific Network on Globalisation, or PANG, says the so called "development agreement" is forcing Pacific island countries to shoulder the burden of legal commitments in the talks while Australia and New Zealand offer voluntary commitments.

PANG campaigner Adam Wolfenden says Pacific NGOs oppose an agreement they see as unnecessary and out of touch with the economic context of many Pacific Island nations.

"So we are calling for an immediate suspension of negotiations, release of the text and the conducting of you know human rights impact assessments on those texts. So we have a sense of what this is fully going to mean. Not just the economic rhetoric that is being pushed by governments and the Office of the Chief Trade Advisor."

PANG are arguing that an obvious example of the inequalities or discrepancies in the agreement is the insistence by Australia and New Zealand to have labour mobility as a separate, parallel arrangement to PACER PLUS.

This is seen as giving them the flexibility to change labour mobility conditions in the future as they see fit but at the same time leaving Pacific countries legally bound to their parts of the trade deal.

Adam Wolfenden

Adam Wolfenden Photo: PANG