To: Andrew Robb, Minister for Trade
Trade justice for Pacific Island nations
Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) members call on Mr Robb to immediately suspend the PACER-Plus negotiations until there has been informed, comprehensive dialogue with civil society to ascertain whether there is a popular mandate for such negotiations; AND immediately release all negotiating texts to allow full, comprehensive and informed input from civil society.
Why is this important?
Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Countries are currently negotiating a regional free trade agreement: PACER Plus.
The PACER+ is another in a line of secret trade agreements that push a trade liberalisation agenda and promote the rights of corporations over people.
Australian Unions have come together against CHAFTA and the TPP to call for trade deals that are balanced, support jobs, protect the rights of working people and promote a healthy environment.
The PACER+ agreement will disproportionately affect Pacific Island nations. It will:
- Give unprecedented rights to corporations Pacific governments will face restrictions on their regulation of foreign businesses. They will not be able to regulate to keep prices low, or ensure that services are available to everyone in the community.
- Undermine access to essential services PACER+ will require Pacific countries to 'list' service sectors (including health, education, and water), allowing Australian and NZ companies to compete to provide these services in the Pacific. This will undermine access to services (especially for vulnerable people, like the unemployed or the rural poor)
- Lead to a loss in public services like health and education PACER+ is calling on Pacific nations to drop tariffs on imported goods. This will result in a significant loss of government revenue - up to 19% in Tonga, 18% in Vanuatu, and 12% in Samoa. This loss in revenue is more than their total health or education budgets.
- Lead to business closures and job losses Remoteness, small economies of scale and lack of human resources make it difficult for Pacific businesses to engage in global markets. Opening Pacific markets up to Australian and New Zealand corporations may wipe out Pacific businesses due difficulties in competing with their cheaper prices.
- Undermine indigenous rights to land Land is central to indigenous people's spiritual and economic life. The removal of restrictions on ownership of land by foreign companies and investors will impact on Pacific communities' ability to determine their own economic future.
(Source: Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA)