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$55 million to boost Pacific economy

14 June 2017

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

New Zealand and Australia are investing an initial $55 million to encourage economic development and boost export capabilities for Pacific nations.

Nine Pacific countries were in Tonga today to sign the PACER Plus free trade agreement with New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand's Minister of Trade Todd McClay, says the deal will reap many long-term benefits for the Pacific however, it's important to get the development phase right.

"It's about services, it's about investments and it's about people," he says. "We've recognised that we need to upskill people so we're creating a number of training schools, where Pacific Islanders can come to New Zealand and work and train and get experiences in areas of fisheries, construction and tourism."

New Zealand currently exports around $1 billion worth of goods to the Pacific every year.

Meanwhile there are concerns about the viability of formalising the PACER Plus trade agreement without Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji.

Green Party MP Barry Coates, says the Pacific countries that are opting out are some of the region's largest economies and New Zealand's biggest trade partners.

"They're central for Pacific regionalism and that's becoming a big cost to Pacific solidarity," he says.

Coates accompanied McClay today in Tonga alongside Labour MP Annette King and NZ First MP Fletcher Tabuteau. 

Tags: PACER Plus, Todd McClay, Barry Coates,