The chapters on services and investment in the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations ‘Plus’ (PACER-Plus) show Australia and New Zealand (NZ) have dominated the negotiations to advance their commercial and strategic self-interest, just as they drove the original PACER signed in 2001. Commitments that development would be at the core of PACER-Plus for island countries have never materialised.
For services and investment trade, the Pacific Islands are not an insignificant market for Australia and New Zealand. This must be remembered when assessing the intent behind the outcomes of these chapters and in whose interest they really are.
In 2016 New Zealand sold NZD$278million of services to PACER-Plus countries (excluding Australia) and describes the new commitments made by the Forum Island Countries in Services as “commercially significant” and importantly protected against any future deals the Pacific signs with other nations.
The focus in this paper is on the implications for Forum Islands Country (FIC) governments’ ability to regulate in the national interest.