The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade has successfully held a national seminar on Monday 15th August on Solomon Islands' PACER Plus Trade Negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.

The seminar was opened by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon. Peter Shanel.

The seminar follows a series of national consultations that have been undertaken over the last four months by the Department of External Trade with the assistance of regional trade expert, Professor Robert Scollay.

The consultations commenced with a meeting of Permanent Secretaries in April 2011 and have sought to look in detail at Solomon Islands' trade and economic relations with Australia and New Zealand, assess possible opportunities and threats presented by PACER Plus and identify current constraints and areas in need of assistance and development in order for Solomon Islands to benefit from a future agreement.

A wide range of stakeholders from Government, the private sector and other non-state actors have attended, including all Permanent Secretaries.

The purpose of the seminar is to present the initial findings from the consultations and provide interested groups and trade stakeholders the opportunity to comment and input on the findings before a draft report is developed which will guide the Solomon Islands Government to develop positions in its PACER Plus negotiations and to further consider the way forward in its PACER Plus consultations.

The participation of stakeholders at the seminar will help to ensure that their views and the views of their organizations or institutions are clearly and accurately documented and that the findings presented are consistent with current developments and policies.

The Ministry views the seminar as an important part of the process in developing a way forward in the Government's negotiations that is in the best interests of the nation and its future development.

'PACER Plus' refers to the negotiation of a new economic and trading relationship between the Pacific Island Countries, including Solomon Islands, on the one side and Australia and New Zealand on the other. Forum Leaders formally launched the negotiations in August 2009. Further information on PACER Plus can be obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.

Source: Press Release, Government Communications Unit