The sixteen nation free trade deal is purportedly designed to reduce poverty. With some of the poorest nations in the world situated within the Pacific, the PACER Plus talks in Brisbane last night were looking at finalising several details for the June sign off date.
That was until Mr Max Rai, outgoing director general of trade and ambassador designate to the United Nations for PNG, said in a strongly worded opening address that "PNG's position is that it is not ready to sign PACER Plus, especially in its current form".
Mr Rai went on to say that 'Most Favoured Nation' status for both Australia and New Zealand should be withdrawn from the deal, as they had demonstrated "non-binding commitments" on labour mobility and developmental help.
"PNG is concerned that the development of our local industries will be threatened by the heavily subsidised and technologically advanced industries in Australia and New Zealand", Mr Rai said, in the address viewable below (courtesy of SBS News).
Mr Rai indicated that PNG feels Australia and New Zealand show "no genuine interest...in PACER Plus to give special and differential treatment to FICs (Pacific Forum Island Countries), beyond securing market access for their goods and services."
Whilst details already under negotiation within the deal, and those agreed to already are secret, concerns are held by several nations and lobbyists that they contain cuts to island nation trade tariffs.
Meanwhile Australia rejected the claims made by its largest Pacific trading partners, and Senator Colbeck, assistant minister for trade, made this comment in Brisbane.
"It's important to note, PACER Plus takes into account different development levels and capacities in various Pacific nations.
"It's very, very pleasing that the negotiations are progressing well. Ten of 15 chapters have now been provisionally agreed, market access negotiations are advanced, and most countries have taken offers."
The next round of PACER Plus talks will be held in April in Vanuatu.
Watch Mr Rai here: