300x200-Solomon-Islands-Flag1Posted Tue, 2012-11-27 15:53 by George Herming

For Forum Island Countries, early harvest in PACER-Plus means the implementation of labour mobility, development assistance and other priority issues ahead of agreements on other issues such as trade in goods, investment etc.

This is what island countries will be seeking from Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) when they meet on Thursday and Friday in Apia, Samoa for their 5th Round of PACER-Plus negotiations.

Trade Negotiations Envoy and Leader of the Solomon Islands’ Delegation in Apia Samoa, Robert Sisilo said the early implementation of what will be agreed in these areas will provide opportunities to island countries to expand and diversify their trade with Australia and New Zealand.

“Currently Island countries export only a few products to Australia and New Zealand, while imports from these two countries account for over 70 per cent of their total imports.

“An early implementation of development-friendly rules of origin can spur foreign direct investment into the region and will enable island countries to enhance their competitiveness in the ANZ markets.” Mr Sisilo told an internal preparatory meeting of senior trade, labour and quarantine officials of the island countries held yesterday at Apia’s Tanoa Hotel.

He said for some Island countries, remittances from nationals working abroad exceed Official Development Assistance received from donor countries.

“Greater commitments on labour mobility would therefore provide island countries with stable earnings and underpin the transformation of their economies.

“The early implementation of an agreement on labour mobility would send a positive signal to the Forum Island Countries, some of whom believe that without greater commitments by ANZ in this area they will not benefit from PACER-Plus,” he said.

Mr. Sisilo is also the lead Spokesperson on labour mobility for island countries in the PACER-Plus negotiations.

PACER-Plus is a process launched by Forum Leaders in 2008 and now being developed to discuss, more broadly, regional economic integration of Forum Island Countries with Australia and New Zealand.

The process was formally commenced by Forum Trade Ministers in October 2009.

Ministers identified a number of priority subjects for negotiation – rules of origin, trade facilitation, labour mobility, and development assistance.

Ministers also agreed to seek early harvest for these priority issues. Source PMO