“The Second NSA Dialogue on PACER Plus was a success,” said Dr Kessie.
“It provided a platform for senior trade officials to engage with non-state actors on PACER Plus. There was the recognition by the participants that it was important for non-state actors to be consulted to get their views both on process and the substantive issues.”
The NSA Dialogue was held in advance of the Fourth Meeting of PACER Plus Officials held 27-29 March 2012, also in Brisbane.
The Office of the Chief Trade Adviser (OCTA), based in Port Vila, Vanuatu, provides independent advice and support to Forum Island Countries in the negotiations of PACER Plus with Australia and New Zealand.
PACER Plus arrangements aim to deepen trade and economic cooperation between Forum Members. The objective of PACER Plus arrangement is to provide a comprehensive framework for trade and economic cooperation between Australia, New Zealand and the Forum Island Countries (FICs) to foster improved economic growth, investment and employment in the Pacific region.
“The OCTA is committed to supporting the Forum Island Countries in their national consultations on PACER Plus, in which non-state actors play a leading role,” said Dr Kessie.
Dr Kessie added that the OCTA was also looking forward to interacting with non-state actors at the dedicated workshop to be held in the last quarter of this year.
“It is hoped that the workshop will strengthen the relationship between the OCTA and non-state actors and enable them to exchange views on a broad range of issues pertaining to the PACER Plus negotiations.”
Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Ms Andie Fong-Toy, welcomed the Chief Trade Adviser’s commitment to NSA engagement on PACER Plus, stressing the important role NSAs have to play in policy development.
Non-government organization (NGO) and private sector representatives were also encouraged by the NSA Dialogue outcomes, seeking commitment from all parties to progress future engagement and consultations on PACER Plus.
Executive Director of the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations (PIANGO), Ms Emele Duituturaga, welcomed the commitment expressed by the Chief Trade Adviser to engage with NSAs, as well as the appointment of the NSA Liaison at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
“The dialogue proved fruitful in focusing on mechanisms to deepen consultations,” said Ms Duituturaga, while also expressing concern over the limited funding available for other Pacific NSAs to attend the Dialogue.
Ms Duituturaga added that firm commitment at the national level to progress consultations was needed.
“This should be improved with commitment from the OCTA for a dedicated dialogue with NSAs later this year and hopefully followed by funding availability for national consultations which PIANGO would be happy to convene.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), Ms Mereia Volavola, stressed that capacity building to improve the understanding of common priorities under PACER Plus was required.
“The private sector requires technical workshops to be conducted so that they can understand the linkages of the common priorities under PACER Plus and potential impacts on their businesses,” she said. “Only then can they provide meaningful contributions to governments negotiating PACER Plus.”
Click here to view the NSA Dialogue Summary Record and other presentations
Photo caption: Chief Trade Adviser (CTA), Dr Edwini Kessie (Picture by: Duane Daws, Source: http://www.engineeringnews.co.za)