Regional trade has become an increasingly important element of the Secretariat’s Economic Governance work programme. Main activities centre around implementation of the following trade and economic cooperation agreements concluded in 2001:
(a) Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), which establishes a free trade area in goods (and, in future, services) among the Forum Island Countries (FICs); and
(b) Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER), an economic and trade cooperation agreement between FICs, Australia and New Zealand.
An important aspect of the Secretariat’s work under PACER is the Regional Trade Facilitation Programme (RTFP), including Customs, Quarantine and Standards and Conformance components.
Other regional trade agreements that either directly or indirectly also form part of or relate to the Secretariat’s work programme are the 1981 South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA) between the FICs, Australia and New Zealand and the 1994 Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Trade Agreement.
In 2005, Forum Trade Ministers agreed that there was a need to move beyond SPARTECA towards a more comprehensive framework for trade and economic cooperation between them as provided for under PACER to foster economic growth, investment and employment in the Pacific region and, towards that end, the Secretariat is implementing various activities.