29 Oct 2015

PACER Plus negotiations continue

2:20 pm on 29 October 2015

New Zealand's associate trade minister says he hopes a meeting with the region's trade minister in Rarotonga this week will accelerate negotiations for the regional PACER Plus free trade agreement.

Todd McClay

Trade Minister Todd McClay Photo: NZ Parliament

Todd McClay will attend the Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers meeting alongside representatives from Australia and 14 Pacific countries.

Negotiations have so far been marked by difference between the Pacific countries and Australian and New Zealand, particularly over labour mobility.

Mr McClay says this week's meeting is an opportunity to work out these differences at the ministerial level.

"Look I think we have an opportunity to make very good progress during this negotiations, but there will remain issues that we will need to keep talking about. You know, we're trying to land this agreement some time during 2016, but there's still some very positive talking to be done."

Mr McClay says New Zealand could consider expanding labour and trade training programmes as part of the free trade agreement.

He says there could be an opportunity to increase the number of Pacific islanders in New Zealand under labour and trade training schemes.

"This will be an opportunity for me to talk directly with some of the ministers who have ambitions for greater training of people in their countries. Certainly, New Zealand is open to the discussion, where there are ways to provide skills that's certainly worth talking about."

Mr McClay says the negotiations are still on track to conclude some time next year.

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