After 8 years of Negotiations, the PACER Plus agreement has finally been signed. Solomon Islands delegation headed by Hon. Milner Tozaka expressed its sincere appreciation to all Forum Island Countries (FIC) and Australia and New Zealand for showing necessary commitment towards the process for the last 8 years.
This resulted in this milestone achievement that we have come to witness the signing ceremony. Solomon Islands amongst 9 other countries put pen to paper on the 14th of June in Nukualofa, Tonga. Palau, Micronesia and Marshal Islands didn’t attend due to transport issues whilst Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu did not sign the agreement.
During the ceremony, Hon. Milner Tozaka thanked all countries for the commitment shown throughout the negotiations process resulting in the signing of the agreement. He also makes special mention and appreciation to all the FICs for showing confidence and trust in Solomon Islands as the Leads Spokes Person for PACER Plus negotiations and also Australia and New Zealand for showing necessary flexibility where it matters most for the FICs.
Hon. Tozaka said that the negotiating process was not an easy road. We have come through some tough times and manage to deliver on the mandate our leaders have set for us. We missed deadlines to deliver on this agreement but that doesn’t deter us from delivering today. The PACER Plus Agreement is indeed a development friendly agreement and it is a tool which we can use to develop our small and vulnerable economies with the support from Australia and New Zealand.
Hon. Tozaka further mentioned that signing the agreement today marks the conclusion of the negotiating process but the beginning of the implementation of the agreement. We have to be prepared for the tasks ahead. It will not be any easier, but we have shown that we can deliver. He further urged countries to go back to their capitals and do necessary preparations for ratification. Implementation of the agreement is as important as negotiating it.
PACER Plus agreement is by no means a silver bullet that would solve all our problems, but one which could complement and support each of our countries to develop our economies. I believe that with commitment and vision going forward, this agreement will enhance our efforts to grow our economy, create jobs, alleviate poverty and improve livelihoods for our countries. It is this opportunity through the PACER Plus agreement that we have endeavoured tirelessly through to this very day. As we have time and again echoed through different frontiers, trade agreement is by no means an end in itself, but an opportunity to explore possibilities, through which we can create more opportunities for our countries, he said.
Hon. Tozaka also acknowledged that 3 of the FIC members opted out of signing the agreement but believes that with time, they will sign the agreement.