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14-nation Pacific pact breaks through trade gloom

But critic doubts significance of deal without Fiji and Papua New Guinea

Representatives of 14 Pacific nations reached agreement on the PACER Plus regional trade pact in Brisbane, Australia on Thursday (Courtesy Office of New Zealand Minister of Trade Negotiations)

AUCKLAND -- Fourteen Pacific nations, some of the world's smallest and poorest, agreed Thursday to a trade and economic agreement with rich neighbors Australia and New Zealand after 8 years of tortuous negotiations.

In the wake of the collapse of the much bigger Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER Plus) was touted as a unique, unprecedented trade and development deal for the sustainable economic development of the region.

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