PNG doubts Pacer Plus June deadline

2:10 pm on 4 March 2016
Papua New Guinea PM Peter O'Neill addresses the PNG Investment Summit in Brisbane.

Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Peter O'Neill Photo: PNG PM Media

Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Peter O'Neill, has decribed the June deadline for the Pacer Plus trade deal covering Australia and New Zealand as looking shaky.

Mr O'Neill has met Australia's prime minister Malcolm Turnbull for bilateral talks, after telling the National Press Club in Canberra that his country has better access to European and American supermarket shelves for its products than those closer to home.

Mr O'Neill said the main thing was accessibility to Australian and New Zealand markets, adding that he thought PNG should be given a fair opportunity to access markets.

PNG declared this week it wasn't ready to sign the Pacer Plus deal in its current form because the terms were unfavourable to smaller nations in the Pacific.

Edwini Kessie

Edwini Kessie Photo: Supplied

In January, the Chief Trade Advisor for the Pacific Island countries, Edwini Kessie, said he was confident negotiations over the PACER Plus trade agreement could reach a successful conclusion by mid-year.

He said he believed Australia and New Zealand were flexible enough to allow Pacific countries to retain the right to regulate, and also to protect infant industries.

However, PNG's government recently said that PACER Plus would reduce employment opportunities in PNG and kill the country's manufacturing sector.

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