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Island input on the region’s leading trade agreement has been rejected by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia.
Calls for public submissions were intended to be for “domestic consultation” only.
“Other countries” should send their views “to their own governments,” a DFAT staffer said in answer to email questions on PACER Plus.
An update to the nearly eight year old trade negotiation agreement, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations, PACER Plus has attracted wide criticism domestic and foreign audiences.
However the DFAT staffer appeared to rule out input from Pacific Islands.
“If you were asking opportunities for people or organisations in other countries to communicate their views in relation to the prospective PACER Plus negotiations, then we encourage them to communicate these views to their own governments.”
She asked that comments be attributed to an anonymous “departmental spokesperson” but did not respond to further questions.
“These consultations are intended to provide information on PACER Plus to interested parties in Australia and obtain views that will be taken into account as the Australian Government moves forward PACER Plus”, she said.
Nor is there a budget in DFAT for future consultations with ‘other countries’ or, at this stage, any plans on the table to do so.
“In relation to your query about PACER Plus budget expenditure, no final decisions have been taken at this stage on future expenditure.”
Current spending on negotiations for an updated PACER is A$3.8 million over this year and next.
Submissions – apparently for Australians only – close on 31st July 2009, two days from now.
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