22 Aug 2016

Pacific countries condemn 'misleading' statements on PACER Plus

9:21 am on 22 August 2016

Concerns raised by activists around negotiations for the regional trade deal called PACER PLUS have been dismissed by a spokesperson for the Pacific Island Forum countries.

The Australia and New Zealand led negotiations for the "Trade and Development" arrangements are due to wind up this month with the signing and ratification set to take place by December.

But the Pacific Network on Globalisation has consistently opposed PACER PLUS, saying it favours Australia and New Zealand and raises concerns about sovereignty.

Port Moresby

Port Moresby Photo: AFP

PANG has repeatedly called for a halt to negotiations until an independent impact assessment of the proposed deal is conducted.

But in a joint statement the spokespeople for the island nations involved said PANG's views did not represent what the Forum Island countries thought.

The lead spokesperson, Joseph Ma'ahanua from Solomon Islands, said PANG's statements were grossly misleading.

"When one talks about reaching a multi-lateral agreement there is always a sense of everyone coming together. It therefore is quite misleading to say the PACER Plus will take away sovereignty. And to also say that it infringes on human rights puts to question whether they really know what they are saying."

The joint statement also condemned a social impact assessment carried out by PANG saying it was carried out on the basis of outdated negotiating texts and without access to the Parties' draft commitments on trade in goods, trade in services and investment.

It questioned PANG's ability to make an impact assessment of an agreement yet to be concluded and implemented.