Pacific Conference of Churches launches PANG report on Australian and NZ ‘power politics’ to launch PACER-Plus negotiations

Original Publication Date: 
29 August, 2009

General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, Fei Tevi, formally launched a new report from the Pacific Network on Globalisation on July 30.  The report (Speaking Truth to Power: Australian and New Zealand power plays to launch Pacific free trade negotiations) exposes the often secret world of regional trade discussions - where meetings between Pacific government officials and their Australian and New Zealand counterparts are held 'behind closed doors'. 

Mr Tevi said Australia and New Zealand had taken advantage of the fact that there is no clear rulebook for trade negotiations, and have pushed the region to launch free trade negotiations on terms that reflect their own political and economic priorities. “This report puts them on notice that we are watching closely, and that any ‘backroom pressure’ of the Island countries will be resisted,” said Mr Tevi.

Speaking Truth to Power documents veiled and overt threats by the Australian and New Zealand governments – directed at Pacific trade officials (and even Ministers) to secure a launch of PACER-Plus negotiations when Australia hosts the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting in Cairns next week.  The report also highlights attempts by Australia and New Zealand to control studies relating to PACER-Plus, and the training of Pacific officials who will take part in PACER-Plus negotiations.

The report draws widely on public announcements, media reports, internal briefing notes, confidential reports and interviews with trade officials from across the Pacific (many of whom have asked to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal).

Speaking Truth to Power: Australian and New Zealand power plays to launch Pacific free trade negotiations is available here