PM slams PACER Plus claims
NUKU’ALOFA – March 31, 2018: 1.45pm (Nuku’alofa Times): The Prime Minister, Hon Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, today denied making a statement regarding Tonga’s involvement in PACER Plus, during the media conference he held on 23 March, as reported in an article published by local website Matangi Tonga on March 26.
The article, entitled, “PM’s Cabinet incomplete”, attributed to the Hon Prime Minister the following statement, “The Prime Minister admitted that after he signed the PACERPlus (sic) Trade Agreement, it was discovered to be inappropriate and now Tonga is no longer a signatary (sic) to the PACERPlus (sic) Trade Agreement”.
Political and media advisor Lopeti Senituli today released a statement for the PM.
“I did not make that statement during my media conference on 23 March, nor did I say anything that even suggested, or could be translated or interpreted, that Tonga was no longer a signatory to the PACER Plus Agreement,” PM Pohiva said.
The deal was signed in Nuku’alofa last year by 10 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Cook Islands and Tonga.
A spokesperson from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told RNZI that Australia has not received any formal advice from Tonga that it is not proceeding towards ratification of the Treaty.
They said Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, discussed PACER Plus and the joint interest in lifting economic growth in the region when she met with the Tongan Government on 23 March.
As far as DFAT is concerned the Australian Government and the other 11 signatories to PACER Plus are working to conclude domestic processes to allow for ratification and early implementation of the Agreement.
Other notable absences from PACER Plus at the time of the signing were Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.
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