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Trade Policy Launch Soon

The National Trade Policy Framework, earlier endorsed by cabinet, will soon be launched.

This was confirmed by Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Shaheen Ali during the workshop on Product Specific Rules of Origin at the Suvavou House yesterday.

Mr Ali said Fiji's participation in all the trade negotiations, including the PACER Plus was governed and guided by the Trade Policy Framework.

"The Trade Policy Framework will oversee and direct the administration and conduct of our engagement in bilateral, regional and international trade, with a view to ensure smooth integration of Fiji into the global trading environment," Mr Ali highlighted.
"The clearly spelt policy objectives in the Trade Policy Framework will set the platform for Fiji's negotiating position in the PACER Plus."

Fiji re-joined the PACER Plus negotiations five years after the commencement of the processes and participated in the 8th Inter-sessional Meeting that was held in October in New Zealand. The ninth one will be held next week here.

Mr Ali added, the PACER Plus Agreement is more than just a trade agreement for Fiji.

"As stated in the vision of the Trade Policy Framework, we want to develop Fiji into a vibrant, dynamic and internationally competitive economy serving as the Hub of the Pacific," Mr Ali said.

"Hence, a well-negotiated PACER Plus will enable Fiji to achieve this vision through a long term, predictable and sustainable market for the growth of our exports."

Meanwhile at the workshop yesterday, Mr Shaheen interlinked Rules of Origin with PACER Plus saying it would enable Fiji, Australian and New Zealand businesses preferential treatment.

"It is for this reason that Fiji has been proactive in engaging our industry, as you are the ones who will operate under the rules, once the PACER Plus agreement is concluded and implemented," he said.

"Benefits of Trade Agreements and trade liberalisation can be negated if rules of origin are inflexible or require qualifications that are unreasonable.

"In the case of SPARTECA, a separate SPARTECA TCF (Textile, Clothing & Footwear) Scheme was needed to allow our TCF sector to derive benefits from the Agreement," he added.

"Hence for PACER Plus and this workshop, we need to propose rules that will facilitate the export of Fijian Made goods (and services) and allow trade to grow."

PACER PLUS - Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus is a proposed regional free trade agreement between Australia, New Zealand and 14 Pacific Island Countries, which are essentially members of the Pacific Islands Forum.

SPARTECA - The South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement (SPARTECA) is a nonreciprocal trade agreement in which Australia and New Zealand offer duty-free and unrestricted access for specified products originating from the developing island member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum.

(Source: Fiji Sun)