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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement (IPETCA)

IPETCA is a non-binding cooperation-based arrangement initiated by New Zealand during its APEC host year in 2021. IPECTA acknowledges the importance of Indigenous economic empowerment through inclusive approaches to trade and working together to identify and remove the barriers that Indigenous businesses face when participating in international trade.

Indigenous peoples in APEC have been engaged during the development of the Arrangement. This has included Indigenous Australian business leaders. At the heart of the Arrangement are cooperation activities, developed and advanced in partnership with Indigenous representatives through the upcoming IPETCA Partnership Council, with the objective of sharing knowledge and best practices and increasing Indigenous peoples’ participation in the economy and international trade.

While not an APEC initiative, IPETCA was discussed with interested economies such as Australia in the margins of APEC meetings. Below is further overview information, and the IPETCA text DOCX 49KB. Please note this webpage will continue to be updated as new information on IPETCA becomes available.

If you have any specific questions on IPETCA, please email


  • The IPETCA affirms that Indigenous peoples have the right to be free from discrimination and to fully enjoy all rights affirmed and established under applicable international and domestic law.
  • It also commits participating economies, in partnership with Indigenous peoples, to work on enhancing the ability of Indigenous peoples and businesses, including those led by women, youth, persons with disabilities, and persons with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, to fully access and benefit from the opportunities created by international trade.
  • These objectives will be advanced through joint cooperation activities that will promote Indigenous-owned businesses and the fuller integration of Indigenous peoples into the formal economy, including through business development services for Indigenous peoples and programmes to improve Indigenous peoples’ digital skills and access to online business tools.
  • The Arrangement provides a framework and structure for participating economies and Indigenous peoples to establish dialogues, partnerships and to work together to address challenges with a focus on international trade.
  • Indigenous peoples are less likely to be involved in trade-focused sectors, face lower wages, and other barriers that impact on their ability to participate in international trade.
  • The IPETCA attempts to address some of these barriers, through a range of provisions that seek to increase Indigenous peoples’ participation in trade as part of continued commitment to advancing reconciliation and Indigenous economic empowerment.
  • The Australian Government is committed to implementing this Arrangement in close collaboration with Indigenous Australians.
  • Each participating economy will bear its own costs related to shared cooperation activities in which it directly participates, and where reasonable and appropriate, the costs associated with the participation of Indigenous representatives from those economies in the Partnership Council.
    1. In an effort to increase the level of participation, virtual platforms will be the preferred mechanism for meetings and cooperation activities.
    2. The need for funding will be determined by the number and type of activities selected by the Partnership Council and the frequency of in-person Partnership Council meetings.
  • Virtual meeting platforms can be leveraged to allow broad participation by economies and Indigenous people.

IPETCA cooperation activities will be determined through the Partnership Council, but some potential types of activities are outlined below.

  • Cooperation activities may occur in the form of workshops, webinars, conferences, trade missions and joint research projects among the participating economies.
  • Cooperation activities may include:
    1. sharing of experiences and best practices in designing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and strengthening policies and programs to enhance Indigenous peoples’ participation in domestic, regional and global economies;
    2. working with Indigenous peoples to identify barriers to participation in international trade and designing strategies to address or remove them;
    3. promoting the participation of Indigenous women-owned businesses in local, regional, and global value chains; and
    4. exchanging views and exploring options in implementing and supporting Indigenous peoples to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression.

IPETCA update – October 2022 – Establishment of IPETCA Interim Body

  • Activities under IPETCA will be determined through the IPETCA Partnership Council, which is expected to be established by May 2023 (indicative timeframe at this stage).
    • Once established, the IPETCA Partnership Council is expected to work together to propose activities that will identify and remove the barriers Indigenous people face when participating in international trade. These may be independent of government, or may involve government support. Provisions for the IPETCA Partnership Council are outlined in the IPETCA text.
  • An IPETCA Interim Body has been established to provide advice on establishing the IPETCA Partnership Council, and shape how the arrangements for the IPETCA Partnership Council will look going forward, within the existing provisions for the IPETCA Partnership Council.
  • The Interim Body comprises two Indigenous leaders from each of the participating economies who will provide advice, and two government officials who will support the process. Australia’s representatives are Leah Armstrong (First Australians Capital) and Darren Godwell (i2i Global), and one official from NIAA and DFAT respectively.

The Interim Body will hold monthly meetings from November to April 2023 with a view to finalising arrangements for the IPETCA Partnership Council by May 2023.


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