I REFER to recent forum between the prime ministers and trade ministers from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands in Cairns on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus).
This agreement could go further than the World Trade Organisation requirements.
A lot is at stake for Pacific Island countries.
Oxfam is concerned that the adoption of a standard free trade agreement would entail high costs and generate little benefit for Papua New Guinea.
Oxfam has assessed the potential risks could include loss of government revenue and consequent reduction in essential government services (such as health and education), regressive measures that can harm the poorer members of society, a failure to harness the potential benefits of PNG’s resources and a loss of productive capacities.
With so much at stake, PNG and other Pacific Island nations are right to approach PACER Plus with caution.
PNG must ensure that it or any other trade arrangements will advance our long-term economic and development interests.
We need time to conduct effective national consultations, consider alternatives and examine the potential impact of any agreement on social services and industry.