Report warns of PACER-Plus

The National,Wednesday June 15th, 2016

PACIFIC island governments have been urged to refrain from the regional trade talks known as Pacer-Plus, a new report has recommended.
The report released on Monday, is titled “Defending Pacific ways of life: A Peoples Social Impact Assessment of PACER-Plus”.
The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) which commissioned the report noted that Pacific island governments must retain their right to regulate and protect their national development interests, including ownership and control of land, natural resources and environment, as well as the social and economic rights of their people ahead of the empty development promises from Australia and New Zealand and walk away from PACER-Plus.
The report was to provide Pacific governments, negotiators, parliamentarians, civil society actors, customary landowners and the private sector with an alternative assessment to the impacts that PACER-Plus would have on the region.
“This assessment, based on leaked negotiating text, warns of the very serious implications that PACER-Plus poses to island countries in the region,” PANG coordinator Maureen Penjueli said
“When negotiations were launched they were sold as being a development agreement. But instead we’re seeing Australia and New Zealand aggressively advancing their strategic political and economic interests at the expense of the Pacific’s right to determine its own development.”
The report, comprised four assessments from leading academics in Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.  It found that PACER-Plus would put handcuffs on governments, hindering ability of Pacific governments to balance commercial interests with regulatory sovereignty and social rights, fail to provide sufficient safe guards, and lack the flexibilities afforded to least developed and developing countries. The authors said overall benefits would accrue to Australia and New Zealand while substantial impacts would be borne by Pacific island countries.