Journalist:

Basically what just I wanted to go over is, for today and over the next two days, the areas that Australia can work with Fiji to strengthen partnerships.  What are some of the outcomes you were hoping that you can gain from this?

Minister:

Well the relationship between Australia and Fiji, the businesses between Australia and Fiji are a very important component of that as I said in my speech.  There are almost 3,000 Australian businesses that export into Fiji and I understand that there is a substantial number of Fijian businesses that export into Australia.  So, it's a very good conference where we are three countries, three key countries, three key trading countries in this area and it's appropriate that the business councils do come together to discuss ways existing business framework and ways that those businesses can improve.  Now obviously, you've got quite a diversity of businesses that have joined the conference and I am sure that out of that, we're going to see some other areas and potentially new areas of doing business, which is the very object of having this sort of forum. 

Journalist:

And so highlighted today, PACER-Plus is one of the most huge topic of interest today.  And so New Zealand has come forward to say that they will work with Fiji to further negotiate and work on these areas.  But perhaps Australia would like to comment on that as well?

Minister:

Well of course, we've said at the meeting in Christchurch and we very much welcome Fiji's participation in and constructive contribution in Christchurch.  Basically, in Christchurch there was an agreement to the legal text followed by a timetable for conclusion of PACER-Plus which includes lodgment of market access negotiations by the end of October and subsequently, hopefully, the signing of the agreement by the end of the year.  Now certainly, there are some matters that have been raised post-Christchurch and we will negotiate with all parties in an endeavor to get PACER-Plus finalised.  We believe that PACER-Plus will be a very important framework for trade in our area and so obviously a lot has been invested in PACER-Plus to date and so we certainly welcome the finalisation.  So, progress in Christchurch was very good.  I attended the leaders meeting in Pohnpei last week and there was, in the communique, the willingness of parties to continue negotiating in good faith.

Thanks very much, thank you.

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