New Zealand's chief negotiator in the Pacer Plus deal says they're looking to improve productivity for Pacific businesses in New Zealand as well.
The free-trade deal aims to increase imports and exports between New Zealand, Australia and Pacific nations.
However chief negotiator for New Zealand, Tessa Te Mata, says they also want to boost prosperity for Pacific businesses in New Zealand.
"Things that happen in the Pacific affect New Zealand and things that happen here affect the Pacific," she says. "There's no other region where the relationships are so close but I'm also interested in how we boost the resilience and prosperity of people here in New Zealand."
Tongan business owners and community leaders gathered in Auckland earlier this week for a briefing on the Pacer Plus agreement that was signed in the Kingdom in June.
Te Mata says Pacific nations are ready to roll with the deal.
"There are a number of Pacific Island countries who wan't to get on with this and want to trade better and grow their economies but we're trying to strike a balance between patience and making sure we get on and make things happen for the people of the Pacific," she says.
Ten countries have signed up to the Pacer Plus agreement so far: Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.
Te Mata is hoping more Pacific nations will follow suit. The Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands and Vanuatu's decisions are still pending.
"We want as many countries to join so we're still talking with countries like Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the French Territories," says Te Mata. "They don't have a lot of their own free-trade agreements so to go into something like this is a big step and that's fine, nobody should be rushed into it."
Te Mata says implementations will start in 2019.
Pacer Plus Agreement signing in Tonga. Photo/ Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.