Tuesday, 19 October 2010 10:47 AM

NSA Dialogue on PACER Plus

The first of an annual Non-State Actors Dialogue on PACER Plus has concluded in Honiara, Solomon Islands today with agreement on the need to more fully engage NSA's in consultations on the proposed trade agreement both at the national and Regional levels.

The Pacific Islands Association of Non-government Organizations (PIANGO) and the
Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization (PIPSO) worked with the Pacific Islands
Forum Secretariat to facilitate the Dialogue, which brought together senior trade officials from Forum Member countries with a diverse group of national and regional NSAs.

Presenters at the meeting included the Public Institute of Public Policy, the Solomon
Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Growers Federation of Tonga, the
Australia-Pacific Islands Business Council, the Samoa Umbrella of NGOs and Oxfam
Australia.

Other national and regional NSAs who attended the meeting included Union Aid Abroad
APHEDA, the Development Services Exchange (DSE), Transparency Solomon Islands,
Solomon Islands Women in Business Association, the Solomon Islands National
Council of Women, Solomon Islands Tropical Production, Association of Solomon
Islands Manufacturers, the Small and Medium Enterprise Council of Solomon Islands,
Solomon Islands Non-State Actors Progamme and Oxfam Solomon Islands.

The Chief Trade Adviser on PACER Plus, Dr Christopher Noonan also attended the
meeting.

The Dialogue, chaired by Mr Kaliopate Tavola, discussed the shared goal of ensuring
that PACER Plus increased economic development and prosperity in Pacific island countries. The Dialogue noted the need for PACER Plus to respond to the different development needs of each country, and to ensure that any agreement was implemented in a cautious and staged manner that provided national governments with the policy space needed to nurture local industry and employment.

"Forum Members are genuinely committed to engaging with NSAs to ensure PACER
Plus creates development benefits for Forum Island countries," Mr Tavola said.

"This Dialogue is the first in what we hope will be a deep and sustained consultative process that will continue throughout the negotiations."

"It is a historic opportunity to ensure the interests of Pacific island communities are well understood and form part of PACER Plus negotiations. It will end the 'Dialogue of the Deaf' and set the modalities and direction for future consultation at both the national and the regional level," said Mr Tavola.

Participants agreed that NSAs should engage deeply in consultations on PACER
Plus, particularly at the national level. The need for increased resourcing, information dissemination and capacity development were discussed.

The Dialogue agreed that PIANGO and PIPSO would continue to play a key role in
PACER Plus discussions.