The Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon. Brett Mason, will represent Australia at the 2014 Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers’ meeting in Tarawa, Kiribati on 28 May 2014.

“Trade and investment are making increasingly important contributions to economic growth in the region,” Senator Mason said. “I look forward to working with Trade Ministers of the region on initiatives and activities that will help Forum Island countries gain more benefits from trade and investment,” Senator Mason said.

At the meeting, Ministers will consider ways to strengthen the Pacific Islands Trade and Invest Network and will review progress on negotiations for a new regional trade agreement, known as PACER Plus. Australia has committed approximately $13.3 million over 2007–2016 to support Forum Island countries’ engagement in the PACER Plus negotiations.

“PACER Plus represents a significant long term opportunity to deepen regional trade and economic integration that will help to create jobs, enhance private sector growth and raise living standards in Forum Island countries. It is a key component of Australia’s regional Economic Diplomacy agenda,” said Senator Mason. “We welcome the achievements that have been made in negotiating the agreement to date and look forward to further progress in the next twelve months.”

While in Kiribati, Senator Mason will also meet with Minister for Finance and Economic Development Tom Murdoch and open the Australia-funded Betio Maternity Ward. The new ward will play a crucial role in reducing maternal and infant deaths in Kiribati, providing pre and post-natal care for around 1500 expectant mothers a year.

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