Tuesday, 2 August 2011 8:49 AM

National Consultations on PACER Plus Extends to Provinces

National consultations on a possible trade agreement between Solomon Islands and Australia and New Zealand, commonly referred to as "PACER-Plus," has been extended to the Provinces.

Senior trade officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, assisted by independent regional trade expert, Professor Robert Scollay, have already held consultations in Lata, Temotu Province.

A statement says during the course of this week, the team will visit the Western and Malaita Provinces to meet executives and heads of divisions of the two provincial governments and their private sectors and explain to them what PACER-Plus is all about.

PACER-Plus is a process launched by Forum Leaders in 2008 and now being developed to discuss, more broadly, regional economic integration of Forum Island Countries with Australia and New Zealand.

Trade specialist Robert Sisilo says, at this stage, it is not clear what issues will be included in PACER Plus or the shape of the final package.

He says Solomon Islanders have the right to know the real meaning behind PACER-Plus because it will be the most important economic negotiations that Solomon Islands and other Forum Island Countries will undertake this decade.

He says the External Trade Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade has intensified its series of national consultations with all stakeholders in Honiara and the Provinces "on what they want and don't want in a PACER-Plus."

Mr Sisilo says Solomon Islands should be looking for an agreement that has clear development benefits without significant adjustment or implementation costs - a trade agreement for development rather than the promotion of trade.