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Koya: NZ Trade Minister Delaying Trip Over PACER Plus Is No Big Deal For Us

  New Zealand Trade Minister, Todd McClay’s decision to delay his trip in retaliation to Fiji’s refusal to endorse the PACER Plus legal text isn’t bothering our Government. Minister for
13 Sep 2016 12:20
Koya: NZ Trade Minister Delaying Trip Over PACER Plus Is No Big Deal For Us
Incoming Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Siddiq Koya in addition ot his portfolio..

 

New Zealand Trade Minister, Todd McClay’s decision to delay his trip in retaliation to Fiji’s refusal to endorse the PACER Plus legal text isn’t bothering our Government.

Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, yesterday said: “It is not a big deal for us.”

Mr McClay was due to arrive in the country yesterday for bilateral discussions on the proposed PACER-Plus free trade agreement.

However, reports indicate the trip is now delayed following the big announcement on Fiji’s stance on the PACER Plus legal text the past Friday.

Mr Koya said “It’s fine if they want to cancel the visit, it doesn’t affect our relationship at all.

“Sometimes we come across trade issues and then we settle them. He has deferred the meeting so it’s no big deal for us.

“It will not affect trade relations between the two countries and we have good relationships so I don’t think we will be affected.

“In trade issues sometimes we come to logger heads and disagreements but that doesn’t mean that relationship between New Zealand and Fiji will be affected.”

 

Concern and reaction

Mr Koya has further warned Fiji will withdraw from PACER Plus if Australia and New Zealand did not show flexibility on Fiji’s key concerns.

Mr McClay was quoted by Radio New Zealand International that he doesn’t believe that’s a fair reflection of the agreement, and he will delay travel until issues have been resolved.

He was further quoted in New Zealand Herald that Fiji had raised issues about some aspects of the agreement which were agreed to by all Pacific Island countries.

“I do not believe Fiji’s statement is a fair reflection of the agreement as it stands,” Mr McClay said.

“PACER Plus will be a high quality agreement which provides opportunities for all Pacific nations and one that recognises the individual developing nature of their economies.”

 

Optimism despite setbacks

Fiji’s refusal to endorse the legal text came a few weeks after Papua New Guinea withdrawing from PACER Plus negotiations.

Fiji and PNG are the two largest economies in the Pacific outside of New Zealand and Australia with a large bulk of trading taking place with the two countries.

However, the chief trade advisor for the Pacific Island countries, Edwini Kessie, remains optimistic.

He said he believed an agreement can be reached to keep Fiji in the deal.

“Well as we say in trade negotiations, ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’,” Mr Kessie said.

“So, until it is formally signed, it will be within the right of any party to request the others to revisit some issues,” he said.

“With flexibility on both sides, we should be able to come to an agreement on this issue.”

 

Fiji’s concerns

Mr Koya in his statement had highlighted that Fiji and the Pacific Island Countries on their part, have demonstrated substantial flexibility in the negotiations of PACER Plus.

“In fact, Australia and New Zealand have back-tracked on their initial commitment of a development oriented PACER Plus,” he said.

“The two key aspects of this, that is, Labour Mobility and Development Cooperation are both legally non-binding, which essentially means that Australia and New Zealand can withdraw these arrangements at any time.”

Another concern of Fiji is the Most Favoured Nation clause which currently aims to limit Fiji’s aspirations to strengthen South-South trade relations.

“By including an MFN clause in the agreement, Australia and New Zealand are forcing Fiji and the Forum Island Countries to provide the same preferences that may in future be negotiated with any other country to them,” he said.

“It should be noted that Australia and New Zealand do not have MFN clauses in majority of their concluded trade agreements with larger countries than those in the Pacific.”

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