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Australia and many Pacific Island nations signed a new trade deal at a ceremony in Nuku’alofa, Tonga. The free trade agreement known also as the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER Plus) is a comprehensive agreement covering goods, services and investment. The signing included Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.

In a statement, Trade minister Steven Ciobo said the pact was both a trade deal and an economic development agreement. “It has the potential to reshape the economic fundamentals of the Pacific region by creating new opportunities for trade and investment in our neighbourhood,” he said.

“PACER Plus will also support development outcomes by helping Pacific Island countries engage in regional and global trade – no country has achieved high and lasting growth without participating in international trade.”