Labor welcomes the announcement that a Pacific regional trade agreement including Australia will be launched in 60 days after the required eight countries ratified the deal, ending years of delays.
The Cook Islands has become the eighth signatory to formally ratify the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus), which covers goods, services and investment.
Negotiations started in 2009 and ended in April 2017.
The agreement will deliver new trade opportunities for Australian businesses as tariffs on products such as beef, dairy products and car parts are reduced or eliminated.
It will also benefit Australia’s Pacific partners through farming, fisheries and increased investment in the region.
Labor believes it is important that Australia diversifies its export markets as this will help to cushion our exporters against economic shocks and create new opportunities for businesses to sell their goods and services to the world.
While the imminent launch of PACER-Plus is welcome, the absence of PNG and Fiji from the pact is disappointing as those two nations are the two largest Pacific island economies.
The agreement will enter into force on 13 December 2020, which is 60 days after the ratification by Cook Islands.
The other seven nations are Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and New Zealand.