Business

Fiji pushes Pacific trade agenda with Europe

By RANOBA BAOA Fiji has told Europe’s top trade man: Europe must do more to reach a fair partnership with the Pacific Islands. Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade
29 Oct 2012 13:10

In Brussels, Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, with the European Commission’s Trade Commissioner Karel de Gutch (left). Photo: SUPPLIED

By RANOBA BAOA

Fiji has told Europe’s top trade man: Europe must do more to reach a fair partnership with the Pacific Islands.
Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum underscored concerns of Pacific ACP (African, Caribbean, Pacific) countries over Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations.
He did so directly in a meeting in Brussels with the European Commission’s Trade Commissioner Karel de Gutch.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “The Pacific ACP region has been negotiating the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Commission for the past nine years and a number of contentious issues are yet to be resolved.”
Political intervention and further technical discussions are crucial to get an amicable conclusion, he stressed.
Minister Sayed-Khaiyum and Commissioner de Gutch met on the margins of a Joint Ministerial Trade Committee meeting, according to information received from the Fijian delegation.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and Mr de Gutch co-chaired this on behalf of the ACP Group and the European Union, respectively.

SUCCESS
The Fijian delegation, led by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and supported by Permanent Secretary for Trade and Industry Shaheen Ali has played a leading role in the Brussels talks.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum discussed with the Trade Commissioner the need for continuous and meaningful engagement by the European Commission with the Pacific ACP countries at technical and political levels.
This is in order to finalise the negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

COMMITMENT
He said: “As of now, all the 14 Pacific ACP countries have submitted Market Access Offers to the Commission in accordance with EU benchmarks, which is an indication of the commitment from the Pacific countries to conclude the Comprehensive EPA with the EU.
“The Pacific is requesting for reciprocal commitment from the EC, not only at technical level but also with a demonstration political will to bring negotiations with the Pacific to conclusion for the mutual benefit of both parties.
“The Pacific ACP region is the smallest configuration of the ACP Group. However, as a group it has many similarities and commonalities such as similar comparative advantages, market requirements and consumer demands, as well as, vulnerable economies and fragile ecosystems.
“Therefore, a successfully negotiated EPA with the Pacific is highly achievable and will demonstrate EU’s repeatedly stated commitment that EPAs are development focused.”,Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum pointed out to the Trade Commissioner that the Pacific ACP region is awaiting response from the Economic Union on the Market Access Offers and textual proposals submitted on the draft Economic Partnership Agreement.
Both Commissioner de Gutch and Minister Sayed-Khaiyum agreed that efforts need to be stepped  up by both sides.
This in order to achieve a development focused and mutually beneficial Comprehensive EPA between the Pacific ACP and the EU.




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