Transparency in trade regulation in the Pacific islands

Regulatory transparency is considered a central tenet of international trade and vital to the success of the recently signed Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus. ECOPER recently presented its final evaluation report for the UNCTAD project ‘Transparency in Trade Regulation and Facilitation in the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus’, a project which aimed to increase trade-regulatory transparency ahead of the PACER Plus’ entry into force. During the evaluation, a document review, which included the PACER Plus legal text, was conducted and the data gathered was used to analyse key project outputs: national online trade portals. A private sector consultation, using an online survey tool, was also carried out, in addition to semi-structured interviews and a discussion group. All meetings with stakeholders took place online, owing to the pandemic.

Eleven countries are signatories to the PACER Plus: Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. The project, which was funded by the governments of Australia and New Zealand, aimed to provide the nine small island states with training and technical assistance. It was framed under the PACER Plus readiness package, which included technical support for ratification, customs and revenue planning.  Besides the aforementioned trade portal, the project resulted in the creation of a regional electronic platform, which includes a trade facilitation index, and the preparation of officials for data gathering and management duties.