Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo has welcomed the conclusion of negotiations toward the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus, a trade deal he said will drive economic growth and raise living standards in the region.
The negotiations between 14 participating countries were concluded in Brisbane, Australia, on April 20. Talks began in August 2009.
Ciobo said PACER Plus "is unique in that it is both a trade and development agreement."
"PACER Plus is a landmark agreement covering goods, services, and investment. It will remove barriers to trade, including tariffs, including the flow of goods and investment in the region, generating growth, jobs, and raising living standards," he said.
According to New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay, the agreement will "create a common set of trading rules covering goods, services, and investment in support of economic growth." He added that "these rules will help reduce tariff and red tape for exporters and investors, which will increase the attractiveness of the region for trade and investment."
The New Zealand Trade Ministry said that the timeframes for tariff elimination are longer than in previous FTAs, while a small number of tariffs are excluded.
The participants in PACER Plus are: Australia, Cook Islands, Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
The formal signing of the agreement is scheduled to take place in Tonga in June.