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Cooperation   Trade Minister Todd McClay:

After 8 years New Zealand welcomes Pacific trade, development agreement

Todd McClayThe New Zealand government welcomed the agreement of a Pacific trade and development after eight years of negotiations.

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Trade Minister Todd McClay said the successful conclusion of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus) negotiations was a landmark day for trade and the sustainable economic development of the Pacific.

"PACER Plus is a unique trade and development agreement. It includes a development package of more than 55 million NZ dollars (38.69 million U.S. dollars) that will help raise standards of living, create employment opportunities and increase export capacity in Pacific island countries," McClay said in a statement.

"This is a significant achievement. After eight years of negotiations, we can now focus on implementing an agreement which future-proofs our access whilst helping develop their export economies," McClay said.

"The agreement will also create a common set of trading rules covering goods, services and investment in support of economic growth. These rules will help reduce tariffs and red tape for exporters and investors, which will increase the attractiveness of the region for trade and investment."

A formal signing of the agreement is scheduled to take place in Tonga in June.

Civil society groups have criticized the deal in the past, saying Pacific people will most likely lose out in the deal, and citing concerns about the potential impact of encouraging more foreign investment and greater access for overseas companies.

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