Canberra rejects island input on regional trade review

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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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avaiki nius agency said...

Australia refutes Pacific trade consultation claims

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has dismissed as misleading a Pacific news agency's report claiming Australia has rejected Pacific input into regional trade agreement consultations.

As well as continuing regional consultations, Australian Government officials are seeking submissions on the initiative - known as PACER Plus - from interested parties in a process that a Foreign Affars and Trade spokesperson says is consistent with regular practice in other trade agreement negotiations.

PACER Plus has been controversial in the Pacific.

The news agency claim appeared after it was told by the Australian Department of Foreign Affars and Trade that other countries should send their views to their own governments.

The spokesperson also says comments to the same agency about budget matters were taken out of context.

Radio Australia:

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This response came through Radio Australia, which could not bring itself to mention Avaiki Nius Agency by name.

With thanks to the PacTrade email list.

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