7 May 2015

No NGO contribution to PACER-Plus talks 'concerning'

3:00 pm on 7 May 2015

The Fiji-based NGO, Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, or DIVA, says civil society groups not being allowed to have a voice in the PACER-Plus negotiations this week is of concern.

This round of negotiations on the regional free trade agreement, being held in Port Vila in Vanuatu, are expected to wrap up today.

The political advisor for DIVA, Noelene Nabulivou, says the agreement will impinge on Pacific governments to regulate fiscal, trade, aid and development policy, and will impact the lives of Pacific people.

She says it is worrying that the private sector has been allowed to attend the talks, but civil society groups have not.

"The ongoing issue is how do you ensure that the most diverse Pacific Islanders possible, the most diverse Australians and New Zealanders have access to this negotiating text. Because if there really was nothing for us to worry about, then we would be in the consulting room, we would be you know, working through the negotiating text."

Ms Nabulivou a plan to wrap up negotiations of the regional free trade agreement PACER-Plus by the end of this year is too rushed.

She says this year is already a big year for the Pacific, with the sustainable development goals and a new climate change agreement being set.

"The post-2015 development agenda is just being finalised only in September, UNFCCC and the climate change negotiations only end in December and that affects everything globally, not just here in the Pacific. So why is there a need for us to wrap this up so quickly? Whose interests does that serve? And we're not convinced that Pacific governments themselves are convinced this is the best way to go."

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