Pacific Trade Ministers progress trade talks

Media release

19 May 2011

Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, welcomed the outcomes of the 2011 Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers' Meeting in Tonga on 18-19 May.

Ministers agreed on a range of regional trade issues that will enhance Forum Island countries' economies, including taking decisions on next steps on PACER Plus negotiations.

Mr Marles said: "Ministers have agreed on the importance of progressing PACER Plus. Officials should in the first instance intensify work on customs procedures, rules of origin and labour mobility at the next officials' meeting".

Ministers agreed that the next meeting of PACER Plus officials be held before the end of 2011 and have accepted an offer by Australia to host the next meeting.

Ministers noted the decision of Trade Ministers in 2010 to establish the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser (OCTA) to assist Forum Island Countries on PACER Plus. Funding arrangements between development partners and OCTA should not compromise the independence and integrity of OCTA operations and activities.

On WTO issues Mr Marles said: "Australia strongly supports Forum Island countries' engagement with the WTO. The Government will contribute funding to the Forum WTO Office in Geneva".

Australia also strongly supports the finalisation of the text of a Memorandum of Understanding on a Regional Trademark Application System. This will allow trademark applicants to seek regional registration in all participating Forum Island countries.

Media enquiries

  • Parliamentary Secretary's Office: (02) 6277 4330
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555
  • AusAID Media: 0417 680 590