Trade agreements in Oceania

The approval of the Pacific Plan in 2005 boosted cooperation in the Pacific. It includes general growth, sustainable development, and good governance and security targets for Pacific Island Countries.

Oceania’s regional integration is also encouraged by the European Union via Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). These agreements facilitate free trade with the European Union for African, Caribbean, and Pacific Countries (ACP)   and support regional integration in the Pacific through the setting up of a group negotiation with the European Commission since 2002.   

However, for numerous reasons, EPA negotiations were unfruitful.  Indeed, the intensity of exchanges with the EU is relatively low and five countries in the region already benefit from favorable conditions thanks to the Lomé Agreement and their “Least Developed Country” (LDC) status.  Hence, the Pacific Small Island States (SIS) are weary of the EPAs’ indirect consequences on their trade relations with Australia and New Zealand.

The idea of a regional union between South Pacific Countries has been envisaged since the creation of the Pacific Islands Forum in 1971, but it is in 1999 that leaders from member countries decided to imagine a future Oceanian free trade area while integrating their countries’ economies to world trade.   

Due to their late inclusion in globalization, Pacific Island Countries and Territories remained isolated and dependent on former colonial powers for a long time. The PICTA and PACER agreements are the results of a willingness to modernize insular economies while also integrating international markets.