A trade and development agreement that will lower barriers, provide greater certainty for NZ businesses, and raise living standards, create jobs and increase exports in Pacific Island countries.
PACER Plus builds on existing trade agreements: the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA) (1980) and the original PACER Agreement (2001).
There are currently eleven signatories (Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu), who in addition to signing PACER Plus, signed an accompanying Labour Mobility Arrangement.
Pacific Island countries are our nearest neighbours and, with almost 296,000 Pacific peoples living in New Zealand, we share strong personal ties. New Zealand has a clear interest in a prosperous and sustainable region and our main objective for PACER Plus is to encourage economic development in Pacific countries.
Opportunities for economic development in Pacific Island countries are limited because of their small size and the difficulty achieving the economies of scale needed to compete in international markets. PACER Plus should help create jobs and wealth in the Pacific by making it easier for these countries to trade.
The intended benefits of PACER Plus are:
- a more predictable trading environment
- more consistent and transparent rules throughout the region on sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, and customs procedures
- more liberal and product-specific rules of origin
- increased investment in the region, in particular by New Zealand and Australian investors into Pacific Island countries
- greater certainty around tariffs for exporters
- more opportunities for trade-related development assistance for Pacific Island countries
- a more mobile labour force in the region.
Impacts on Māori
It is not envisaged that there will be any significant impact on Māori interests although there may be opportunities to leverage economic cooperation around labour mobility and for Māori exporters to benefit from trade liberalisation and economic integration. As with other New Zealand trade agreements, PACER Plus contains a specific provision whereby New Zealand maintains its rights to take measures to fulfil its obligations to Māori including under the Treaty of Waitangi.
Further information on an analysis of known Māori interests in PACER Plus and the potential impact of these interests can be read here: Maori Interests [PDF, 347 KB]
The following factsheets summarise the contents of the agreement.
Overview: Purpose and benefits [PDF, 1 MB]
Development and economic cooperation [PDF, 1.3 MB]
Labour mobility [PDF, 646 KB]
Legal and Institutional Chapters [PDF, 801 KB]
Pasifika New Zealand [PDF, 1.6 MB]
Te Moana-nui-ā-Kiwa and Māori development [PDF, 1.5 MB]
Trade in goods, Rules of Origin and customs [PDF, 1 MB]
Services, investment and visa access for business people [PDF, 801 KB]
Negotiations started: In August 2009 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders agreed to commence PACER Plus negotiations.
Status: Negotiations concluded on 20 April 2017. Following signature, the Agreement will enter into force 60 days after eight negotiating parties have notified the Depositary (Government of Tonga) that they have completed their internal requirements.
Current priority - ratification
New Zealand became the first PACER Plus signatory country to ratify PACER Plus on 24 October 2018. This followed Cabinet’s approval of the required legislation on 23 October 2018 and New Zealand advising Tonga (as the depository of PACER Plus) that New Zealand has completed its domestic procedures to ratify the PACER Plus.
In December 2018 Australia also ratified PACER Plus.
The remaining 9 signatories are currently focused on progressing towards ratification of PACER Plus to allow entry into force hopefully in 2019.
Changes to legislation
Most of the obligations in PACER Plus would be met by New Zealand's existing domestic legal and policy. Some legislative amendments were required which related to amendments to the Tariff Act 1988 to enable the application of preferential tariff rates under PACER Plus and amending the rules on "goods re-entered after repair or alteration" in Tariff. The Tariff (PACER Plus) Amendment Bill has now passed through the House and the required regulations have been approved.
You may wish to access information through the Parliament website (Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee) attend one of our public engagements on trade or contact us directly.
Monitoring and Evaluation
In May 2018, two working groups were established to help frame and inform the development of a monitoring and evaluation framework for the PACER Plus agreement. An update [PDF, 205 KB] on progress to date is available.
If you are interested in being involved in the framework design process please contact Susanna Kelly, Senior Adviser (Monitoring and Evaluation) by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about our public engagements on trade read Public engagements on trade.
PACER Plus Customs Workshop - PACER Plus Signatories met in Tonga in January 2019 to discuss ANZ support for customs modernisation and to provide training to Customs Officials from the Pacific. This was part of a large programme of work that is supporting Signatories to get ready to implement the Agreement with funding from Australia and New Zealand ($AUD 7.7million) for activities including the development of a regional trade portal that will make it easier for businesses to trade and invest in the Pacific. After entry into force Parties will start to implement a programme of trade related development assistance to diversity and strengthen Pacific exports and facilitate regional integration, funding for the first 5 years of core activities is $AUD 25.5million. Entry into force of PACER Plus is anticipated in 2019.
We are happy to arrange meetings with stakeholders and Iwi/Māori organisations to discuss how PACER Plus may affect you, your business or your communities.
Submissions or requests for information can be sent to:
The National Interest Analysis assess PACER Plus from the perspectie of its impact on New Zealand and New Zealanders.
National Interest Analysis [PDF, 1.4 MB]
New Zealand-Australia side letter [PDF, 210 KB]
Australia-New Zealand side letter [PDF, 72 KB]