PACER Plus trade agreement is good news for Australia and our Pacific neighbours

The PACER Plus trade agreement between Australia, New Zealand and 12 Pacific island countries should be strongly supported by Parliament and the community because it will boost growth and improve living standards throughout the Pacific.

The benefits of free trade extend far beyond Australia’s shores. And the trade debate should focus as much on benefits for developing countries as on the positive impacts for Australia’s own economy.

PACER Plus is one of the most development-friendly trade agreements negotiated by Australia.

It will foster sustainable economic development in the Pacific and, in this way, play a part in global efforts to reduce extreme poverty and inequality.

The MCA’s submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties Inquiry into the PACER Plus agreement highlights extensive research confirming that greater trade openness leads to faster growth and higher per capita incomes in developing countries.

Between 1990 and 2015, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty – defined by the World Bank as surviving on less than $1.90 a day – fell by 1.26 billion. But there is still a long way to go.

Trade’s powerful role in lifting living standards can continue well into the future, particularly for smaller developing economies such as the Pacific island countries.

These countries face particular development challenges such as small domestic markets, isolation from global production networks, lack of investment and the impact of their geographic location on trade costs and opportunities.

Reducing trade barriers, pursuing more open and inclusive international trading relationships and providing trade-related aid and development assistance will all support the growth and development aspirations of Pacific countries.

PACER Plus will improve their ability to participate in international trade, tap into global production networks and attract inward investment that will build local businesses, create jobs, improve infrastructure and strengthen government revenues.

The agreement will also benefit Australian export industries including the minerals sector. Pacific countries have made significant commitments to improve market access for Australian mining services suppliers, which will help create more jobs and increase exports for the world-class Australian mining sector.

The MCA’s submission calls for Parliament to pass legislation needed to implement PACER Plus and recommends that the Government report regularly to Parliament on progress implementing the agreement, including on meeting Australia’s extensive commitments on development and economic cooperation.


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