By MAVARU HANUA
The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between the Pacific and the European Union were indeed an education for many Pacific trade negotiators.
From the slaughterhouse of Brussels Centra Brochette where former EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson humiliated Pacific Trade Ministers in shouting them down on every negotiating position advanced, to the backstabbing thuggery on Papua New Guinea running parallel negotiations with the EU to cut deals and preference separate from the pacific countries, hard and tough lessons were learnt.
Yep, many of us walked away bruised, exhausted and perhaps with greater awareness, there really are no friends in trade.
Quite recently, one senior Pacific trade official commented, “When Africa sneezes, the Pacific catches the cold.”
Why? Because, the only interest in the Economic Partnership Agreements between the African Caribbean Pacific regions is
Now, three years on, one apparent fact remains: the Pacific is eating the scraps of
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has over the years engaged with
Built on friendships and contacts, positions flowed freely into the Pacific for the region to abreast themselves on the gains of
Of course, not everything that flowed from the Motherland was good for the pacific, so quality control measures ensured the pacific position was upheld.
Their EPA negotiations have demonstrated major improvements from previous interim texts where the obligations were counterproductive to export and trade policies of the pacific.
The lesson was simple, if you’ve got more resources, than we will cut deals with you.
Can we expect anything different from PACER Plus? Hell no.
If you’ve got more resources, Australia New Zealand (ANZ) will cut a deal with you.
So let’s look into the region and see who does have more resources and who ANZ will cut a deal with.
The obvious suspect is PNG, the land of the unexpected as they say.
Well it’s becoming more expected now.
They’ve got money falling out of their ears from gas, rocks, fish and lumber.
Yep it’s all boom boom boom and contrary to popular opinion, it’s not the sound of gun totting raskols holding up a bank but the stampede of Australians running across
So for the past two years, PM Gillard and her predecessor being the leaders they are, needed to fix a deal with the black fellas up north so the Blokes and Sheilas can vote them back in.
They’ve sent officials, high commissioners and heck, almost every public servant in
Where there are no tariffs, no burdensome non-tariff barriers like sanitary-phytosanitary measures, technical standards, no trade in services restrictions, visa requirements, no capital movement restrictions and of course the best part, no taxes to pay.
Yep, the Blokes and Sheilas have got it all.
It’s all ozzie ozzie, oi oi oi in the land of the unexpected.
Don’t you love a public service that can deliver to its people?
What about my wantoks trying to come the other way of the yellow brick road?
No, they need to comply with complicated market access arrangements such as burdensome rules of origin arrangements, tons of paper work on quarantine, don’t forget the qualifications part, our lawyers, doctors, accountants can’t work their because they’re not qualified.
Ohh and the visa requirements, well you can forget that, stand in line like everyone else.
And yep, you’ll paying shit load of taxes.
So when Minister Abal talks to his counterpart Stephen Smith in Alotau on PNG not wanting less aid and more trade, but dear minister, for pity’s sake negotiate an agreement.
Our wantoks must walk on that yellow brick road with the same deal.
Ok, so Stephen’s old mate Simon Creen said it’s all about development and no one will get smashed.
Don’t forget Stephen’s old boss Kev, he also told all our Chiefs under a house win
And even some guy in Samoa call Misa Telefoni is preaching about PACER Plus will allow his Solei Samoans that they will not only be eating Palusami but Australian meat pies and vegemite as they have comparative advantage on them.
We’ve all heard this shit before, that’s right… from some guys in
But at least for the cultured Europeans, they made it look cool by saying “we are generous but not naïve.”
That was before they massacred us at Centra Brochette.
I have no doubt Sam’s chat with Stephen will set in motion a trade relationship that PNG will negotiate a trade agreement bilaterally with
But what about the outcomes of the Forum Trade Ministers in Ponopei earlier this year?
What about the Office of the Chief Trade Advisor that will be developing a regional trade pact with all forum countries negotiating collectively with ANZ?
Well, that was all for a show mate.
Gotta tell these backward islanders we’re one big family.
These developments remind me of a piece of history in a faraway land called
After gauging wise counsel from her advisors, she wrote a truthful letter that the contract Mr Rhodes was pushing for will destroy his kingdom as all minerals, land, trade, and every other possible international relationship will be under the exclusive right of Mr Rhodes’ company.
She explicitly wrote to not enter into the contract.
A couple of months later after Mr Rhodes effectively bribed the entire political system, she rescinded the advice.
King Lobengula told his advisors, “This woman speaks with two tongues.”
A couple of months later, Matabeleland was conquered by mercenaries and
As they forge to run deals with a superpower, they are binding their people to live in a relationship with
Ok so the PACER Plus contract is not as controversial as
Our officials will no doubt try their best to fight for my wantoks so that when our people want to walk on that yellow brick road from PNG to
Past experiences will also show wannabe trade gurus will find some excuse to be in the frontline to negotiate.
Thinking they are the voice of our people, they will push agenda that Kanage, Agnes and Mr Roots will suffer.
Why? Because the interest they push is not in their interest but long whiteman na kongkong tasol.
But the most destructive result in all this is that PNG will set the bar for the rest of the pacific.
That’s right: the framework for PACER PLUS will be determined in Alotau.
Why? Because PNG has a whole lot more resources than any other Pacific island country and the blokes and Sheilas want to be part of it.
So it’s up to PNG.
Will you lead the region and champion the cause or cut the deal of a lifetime so that
Gee, I wonder what option the Lubengula’s of PNG will opt for.