While the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) has received a lot of coverage lately, less attention has been given to the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) which is a trade agreement between Australia, New Zealand and a number of Pacific Island states.
Negotiations for a successor agreement, dubbed ‘PACER Plus’ have been on-going for years. While New Zealand and Australia want island nations to open their borders to imports, they have been less amenable to opening their own borders to borders to people.
Soloman Islands trade negotiations envoy, Robert Sisilo is the latest to echo the call for regional labour mobility “Since all Island Countries will be expected to make binding commitments to reduce or eliminate their import duties on ANZ exports and hence lose much needed revenue, it is only fair that ANZ do likewise on labour mobility” he told the Soloman Star
Current immigration controls see workers from the Pacific bought to New Zealand to fill low wage jobs, largely seasonal jobs in agriculture and viticulture. Opening New Zealand’s borders to workers from throughout the Pacific would give Polynesian and Melanesian migrant workers in New Zealand more rights, and would be a first step toward opening borders to workers from across the globe.