PRESS RELEASE - 25th March 2011 - The fifth round of Pacific Islands Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) trade in services negotiations was held in Koror, Palau on 16 - 18 March 2011 to negotiate further the provisions of a trade in services agreement amongst the PICTA member countries.The objective of the fifth round of the PICTA trade in services negotiations was to advance the negotiations among the Countries involved in PICTA, taking into account discussions at the previous rounds of negotiations and the Ministerial decisions relating to the PICTA trade in services.
"Increased sustainable trade in goods and services is one of the key strategic objective of the Pacific Plan endorsed by the Leaders. Integration of trade in services, including temporary movement of labour, into the PICTA is an important step to achieve the above objective," Tuiloma Neroni Slade, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat said.
The key focus of the negotiations at the fifth round was for the Countries to engage in bilateral negotiations, and exchange new and revised PICTA trade in services offers and requests.
Countries reviewed the overall state of progress of the PICTA trade in services negotiations, and engaged in technical discussions on the Countries' schedule of commitments under the PICTA trade in services arrangement.
Secretary General Mr Slade stated that the progress made by the Countries to advance the PICTA trade in services negotiations is commendable, and further work is needed at the national level, before the Countries can consider concluding the PICTA trade in services negotiations.
Countries considered the way forward on completing the PICTA trade in services negotiations aligned to Trade Ministers' decision for the conclusion of the negotiations by end of 2011. Members at the Meeting agreed on a framework for progressing their PICTA trade in services negotiations.
Discussion on the inclusion of the Temporary Movement of Natural Persons (TMNP) arrangement under the PICTA was also held at the negotiations.
The commitments under the PICTA trade in services arrangement include priorities for liberalisation within key sectors that are of importance to all the island countries in the Pacific. Member countries have agreed to intensify their bilateral negotiations to progress the PICTA trade in services negotiations.
National consultations and consultations with relevant agencies for revising the PICTA trade in services offers and the development of the TMNP offers will be the key focus of the Countries for the coming months. The sixth round of PICTA trade in services negotiations is planned to be held in August 2011.
"The Trade Ministers have instructed trade officials to work towards the conclusion of the negotiations of the PICTA TIS arrangement by end of 2011. The Forum Secretariat will be providing necessary technical assistance to the Countries to assist them in progressing the conclusion of the PICTA trade in services negotiations," Mr Slade said.