Samoa rallies support for regional trade deal

Samoa has urged other Pacific Forum countries to join the negotiations of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (P.A.C.E.R.) Plus.

The call was made by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Lautafi Fio Purcell, in Apia this week when he opened a series of regional Trade Officials Meetings at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.

The Minister did not say which Forum countries he was referring to.

But the agreement, signed in 2017 by Australia, New Zealand and eight Pacific island countries including Samoa – has been objected to by Fiji and Papua New Guinea. P.A.C.E.R. Plus is a Free Trade Agreement (F.T.A.) covering goods, services and investment.

“I am further pleased that your agenda includes a discussion on the P.A.C.E.R. Plus ratification and implementation,” Lautafi said. 

“For those of us that have signed P.A.C.E.R. Plus, and particularly for me, having been involved in the final stages of negotiations, I encourage your continued commitment to see through the ratification of the agreement and entrance into force so that we can benefit from the arrangements that you have all negotiated since 2009.  

“I would also urge and encourage other Forum countries to consider participation in P.A.C.E.R. Plus as the regional trade and development agreement for the region.  My humble advice to you all as Forum Trade Officials, be resolute in your regional commitment.”

Lautafi pointed out that the meetings in Apia this week highlights a commitment to promote trade as a development tool, enhancing regional economic integration through trade, investment and private sector development.  

“Today, you are meeting as the Forum Trade Officials; and Samoa, as the Forum Chair, encourages you all to consider how best to take collective actions to deepen regional trade and economic integration,” he said. 

“Our Leaders have mandated our work to be undertaken in line with the principles and priorities through the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and the Blue Pacific Narrative.

“We must ensure also that our trade related needs and priorities are clearly articulated to guide discussions with our development partners.”

The meeting was closed to the media.

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