The Pacer Plus networking event was held in Auckland on July 27 at Koel Cafe at the Viaduct, Auckland CBD. This event was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and supported by the six Pacific business councils. (FNZCCI, NZSTIC, NZTBC, NZPNGBC, NZFBC, NZPBC).  There was a great turnout from a diverse group of people associated with trade and development across the Pacific region.

Tafilelea Faavae Gagamoe (Acting Chair, New Zealand Samoa Trade and Investment Commission Inc) provided the opening prayer.

The event commenced with Keawe Woodmore, Senior Official PACER Plus, (MFAT),   providing a very thorough explanation of the Pacer Plus agreement. Keawe explained the history and the current state of its membership, and the dual objectives of Trade and Development.  Having gone into some detail on these two objectives, Keawe then explained the structure of the Implementation team and outlined the next steps in the work programme. Click here to view the briefing presentation.

The Pacer Plus agreement currently has eight signatories to the agreement: Australia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, Kiribati and Samoa.  The following three countries have signed the agreement but have not ratified: Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Two of the regions biggest players have not signed, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, however, it is hopeful that they will also become signatories. Unfortunately for both countries, their current focus is the spread of COVID 19 and the impact that this virus is having on their countries.

Following Keawe’s presentation, there was a Q&A, facilitated by Vice-Chair of the NZ Pacific Business Council, Catherine Sumpter. 

The second half of the event consisted of Ministerial addresses by Hon Phil Twyford, Minister for State Trade & Export Growth and the Minister responsible for Pacer Plus, and Hon Aupito William Sio, Associate Minister Foreign Affairs and Minister for Pacific Peoples who both provided their perspectives on the current status of Pacer Plus, on New Zealand’s areas of priority moving forward, and on their eagerness to be able to resume face to face engagements across the Pacific. The Ministerial addresses were concluded with another Q&A, this time hosted by the Chair of the NZ Tonga Business Council, Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau.

The event then concluded with informal discussions, accompanied by drinks and canapes.

Bob Weston -Entec