PACER Plus: Reimagining Pacific Business Opportunities

  • Speech, E&OE
22 September 2021

Good morning, and thanks to my good friend Minister Tehan for kicking things off today.

I would also like to thank the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council.

It's a real pleasure to join you this morning for a discussion on how PACER Plus can help us build new opportunities for our businesses.

Minister Tehan touched on a range of the challenges that our region, and our Pacific family, is facing – from health, to economic, and, of course, strategic challenges.

Which is why Minister Tehan and I, the Prime Minister, and all our ministerial colleagues, are so focused on responding to this pandemic, and building a shared, strong and inclusive recovery for all.

Today I'd like to build on Minister Tehan's remarks by highlighting some of the key opportunities that I see coming out of PACER Plus for our businesses.

PACER Plus is, at its heart, about supporting business to grow, and attracting new businesses to the region.

Pacific and Australian goods exporters alike will benefit from the clear set of rules and procedures under PACER Plus – rules that boost predictability, transparency and cut red-tape for trading goods among members.

As you know, the agreement also supports the development of regional supply chains by locking-in zero tariffs and more flexible rules of origin for Pacific imports into Australia, and lowering tariffs for Australian exports to the Pacific.

Securing better market access will be a great opportunity for service providers, including tourism, education and financial services.

This is so important when you consider that services are, of course, the single biggest component of our economies and are key to creating jobs.

The increased transparency and certainty for investors in PACER Plus will also help support increased investment into the region – helping meet the need for capital, and supporting development outcomes by raising productivity, creating jobs, and strengthening skills development.

So PACER Plus presents many opportunities.

One particular area that I wanted to touch on today is infrastructure.

High-quality, sustainable and effective infrastructure is key to economic success, and critical to the future of economic growth in the Pacific.

Without adequate infrastructure, countries cannot fulfil their economic potential, and the benefits of growth are not as inclusive.

The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific recognises this fact and was established as a core tool of Australia's Pacific Step-Up.

The AIFFP is providing $1.5 billion in lending and a further $500 million in ODA grants to support the development of transformative infrastructure in the Pacific and Timor-Leste.

It has finalised financing for three major projects in Palau, Solomon Islands and Fiji worth over $110 million.

And there are several more on the way.

The second Palau submarine telecommunications cable and the Tina River hydropower transmission system in the Solomon Islands are proceeding with AIFFP support.

And in August, the Foreign Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific announced a partnership between the AIFFP and the private sector in Fiji to support continued airport investment during COVID-19.

This Airports Fiji transaction is a great example of the Australian Government partnering with the private sector to deliver financing in local currency to support critical infrastructure.

The AIFFP has a strong dialogue process with businesses to ensure their views inform programming, so I look forward to hearing more from your discussions on sustainable infrastructure later today.

There is a lot to cover in today's agenda, so I will conclude my remarks there.

But I do want to say that I'm looking forward to continuing this conversation with the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council and with members.

I think there is great scope to explore and build new business relationships in the region, and to bring to fruition the opportunities on offer under our PACER Plus agreement.

Thank you.

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