SUNGO supports suspension of trade talks

The Samoa Umbrella for Non-Government Organisations (SUNGO) has joined the calls for a suspension of the PACER-Plus trade that wrapped up in Apia last week.

“As the umbrella body that represents more than 170 NGOs and CSO member organisations in Samoa, we are concerned that our peoples and limited resources will be on the front lines of the impacts of PACER-Plus. Yet we are denied a say in what is happening,” commented Vaasiliifiti Moelagi Jackson, President of SUNGO.  

“SUNGO supports the calls from civil society across the Pacific to suspend the PACER-Plus talks to allows us the time to have proper, informed, meaningful discussion about what is on the table and what that means for the Samoan and Pacific peoples in terms of the issues discussed this week such as labour mobility, goods, services, investment, development, and more importantly to seek why Australia and New Zealand are making voluntary and verbal agreement to the PICs and require the PICs to engage in legally binding agreements under PACER+! For us, we do not see the ‘plus’ delivering any real benefits to the peoples of the Pacific contrary to what is being advocated by the officials engaged in this negotiation” added Fiu Mata’ese Elisara, Vice President of SUNGO. 

SUNGO joins the open letter signed by over 30 Pacific civil society organisations representing  farmers, trade unions, environment and conservation groups, feminists, LGBTQ, human rights defenders, development groups, indigenous groups, churches, academics, scientists. 

The open letter called for the immediate suspension of the trade talks, the immediate release of the negotiating text, and a human rights impact assessment for what is being proposed.

“SUNGO is concerned about what is being traded away in these talks and what the impacts of that will be.  We remain unconvinced of the benefits of PACER-Plus and the apparent rush to try and conclude the talks” stated Papalii Carol Ah Chong of Faataua Le Ola organisation.

It has been reported that there has been progress made in the negotiations with more chapters being concluded and aimed at concluding the PACER+ negotiations by September next year 2016.

“We keep hearing that the talks are progressing but they aren't progressing with the consent of the people. If PACER-Plus really is about the interests of the Pacific why aren't we allowed to know exactly what is being committed?” Lavea Kenneth Lameta, President of Ole Siosiomaga Society commented.

“Samoa has richness and wealth in its people and customs, lets not forget that and trade it all away under PACER-Plus” concluded Reverend Letaulau, Board Member and SUNGO Treasurer.