Business

Mission accomplished

By RACHNA LAL The European Union (EU) has allocated an additional Euros 12 million (FJ$27.4m) to the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group of countries for the purpose of trade capacity
31 Oct 2012 19:35

The Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (second left) with the Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Shaheen Ali (left), Samoan Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo with another Samoan representative in Brussels, Belgium at the conclusion of the ACP-EU meeting.

By RACHNA LAL

The European Union (EU) has allocated an additional Euros 12 million (FJ$27.4m) to the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group of countries for the purpose of trade capacity building.
This would be done through the continuation of the Hubs and Spokes programme.
This has been confirmed to the Fiji Sun by the Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Shaheen Ali, from Brussels.
It followed the conclusion of a week-long discussion between the ACP and the EU.
The Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Mr Ali played a leading role.
“The Hubs and Spokes programme has been very beneficial for the ACP Group, especially for the Pacific ACP that is stretched in terms of relevant trade related capacity,” Mr Ali said.
“The programme allows for deployment of trade advisors at the regional or national levels.”
For Fiji, this would essentially mean Fiji would be able to use the services of experts in the area of trade, example a trade advisor.

Further $86m assistance
Mr Ali said the ACP-EU Joint Ministerial Trade Committee also acknowledged EU’s assistance amounting to Euro 38 million (FJ$86.8m) to the All ACP Trade Capacity Building programme, which will start in the near future.
The Trade Capacity Building programme would be like an umbrella programme that would provide capacity building training and experts in the area of trade.
Mr Ali said this was crucial for ACP as the Trade.Com and Multilateral Trade System programme of EU had finished off now.
The Multilateral Trade System programme assisted ACPs to integrate in the multilateral trade arena.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, co-chaired the Joint  ACP-EU talks, with the European Trade Commissioner, Mr Karel de Gutch, last week which concluded the week-long meetings in Brussels.

Successful talks
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji successfully carried out its responsibility as the chair of the ACP Senior Trade Officials Meeting and the 18th ACP Ministerial Trade Committee and the co-chair of 11th ACP-EU Joint Ministerial Trade Committee.
“The Joint Ministerial Trade Committee was established to address all issues of common interest between the ACP and the EU in the area of trade and development,” he said.
“The ultimate objective is to ensure that we enhance the trade relations between ACP-EU.”
Mr Ali said: “In carrying out its role effectively, Fiji has raised the profile of the Pacific region in the ACP and sensitised the EU to the Pacific region’s needs and concerns in terms trade and economic development.”

Commitment needed: A-G
An update on the current state of play on the Economic Partnership Agreements outlined the concerns of the African and Pacific configurations with regards to the on-going negotiations with the EU, whilst implementation challenges were highlighted by the Caribbean region.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum stressed a higher level of commitment was needed by both sides, not only at technical level but also at political level, thus providing the necessary impetus for the finalisation of the outstanding negotiations.
The ACP Group also raised issues regarding the erosion of preferential market access, resulting from the EU engaging in free trade agreements with third parties, such as states in South East Asia and Latin America.

Market Access Regulation
Mr de Gutch said the European Commission regulation, titled Market Access Regulation (MAR 1528/2007) amendments, would come into force, after discussions between the European Parliament and the European Council.
The Market Access Regulation amendments may withdraw preferences from ACP member states that have initialed or signed the Interim EPAs but are yet to ratify it.
Mr Ali said the ACP side had requested the EU to exercise flexibility and allow the affected ACP states to complete negotiations on Comprehensive EPAs, before effecting MAR 1528/2007.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum has assured that Fiji will continue fulfill its role as an ACP and a Pacific ACP member.




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