Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA)
The widening of the PICTA Agreement to the trading of services and the temporary migration of workers has been ongoing since March 2008. After 7 negotiation cycles, PICTA’s Service Protocol was submitted for ratification on 28 August 2012 for a one-year period. As of today, the Agreement has been signed by 9 countries including the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Samoa Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and le Vanuatu. However the “Service Protocol” does not take into account the diverse economic realities facing Pacific island countries. It is not consistent with the framework of the general agreement on goods and services Therefore; external technical expertise seems indispensable to support PIF members in their transition towards free trade.
Moreover, PICTA includes negotiations with Australia and New Zealand to widen the free trade area. It should lead to better consumer protection in insular economies to create jobs. The establishment of this regional market aims to increase direct foreign investments in isolated Pacific islands. The possibility of reaching a harmonized market of 7 million people may encourage investors.