2 Dec 2013

Pacific's chief trade advisor believes labour mobility can be sorted

7:13 am on 2 December 2013

Labour mobility continues to be a sticking point over negotiations in the PACER Plus trade deal but the Pacific's chief trade advisor believes a compromise can be reached.

Development assistance was the other issue that came up at the latest round of negotiations for the regional trade and economic development agreement, held in Auckland last week.

Dr Edwini Kessie, who provides support for the island countries in their negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, says they want legally binding commitments on current labour arrangements such as New Zealand's regional seasonal employer scheme.

"Australia and New Zealand have indicated that they would consider other options which will satisfy the Pacific Island countries. Politically I think it's quite difficult for Australia and New Zealand to have labour mobility in the PACER Plus agreement but I think we should find a creative way of advancing the negotiations."

Dr Edwini Kessie says Pacific Island countries would also like Australia and New Zealand to increase the present cap on employment schemes.