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EU Proposes To Stop EPA Talks For Three Years

The European Union has proposed to stop the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations with the Pacific ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) countries for three years. This is in hopes that
21 May 2015 10:42
EU Proposes To Stop EPA Talks For Three Years

The European Union has proposed to stop the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations with the Pacific ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) countries for three years.

This is in hopes that certain issues within the Pacific ACP countries will be resolved in this given timeframe.

This has been confirmed by the European Union Trade Commission, Malmström.

The EU says the decision was made bearing in mind Pacific State’s sensitivities on fisheries and Pacific plans to review fisheries resources management in the region.

The EU further said the three-year period would correspond with the time span that the Pacific region itself has indicated for its review.

“The Trade Commissioner’s proposal was sent to all competent Pacific Ministers so that it could be duly considered at the appropriate political level,” a statement from the EU said.

The EU says it will respectfully await a formal reply to the proposal made by its Trade Commissioner.

The Permanent Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Shaheen Ali, confirmed the proposal.

But, he said Fiji cannot make any statements on this proposal.

He did indicate it is proposed the Pacific ACP Trade and Fisheries Ministers meet in Fiji this year to address the best way forward in the negotiations process.

This, he said, would be for the betterment of regional trade and integration, in the global market.

“The EPA is important and aim for Fiji is to have a comprehensive development,” he said.

“This is urgent enough an issue to warrant the Pacific Trade Ministers and Fisheries Ministers to address this issue.

“The meeting has been proposed to be held in Fiji by the secretariat and Fiji will facilitate.”

Some background

In September 2004, the EU started negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Pacific region.

More than ten years later, negotiations are still far from conclusion.

Fiji has provisionally applied the Interim EPA which will be subject to Parliamentary approval.

But it has consistently maintained that our objective is to have a Comprehensive Agreement, rather than an Interim Agreement, that has a development at its centre.

Ms Ali said this can be achieved through all the Pacific ACP countries negotiating as a single region with the EU, to deliver a mutually beneficial development oriented Comprehensive EPA.

But he said there has been very little progress in the Comprehensive EPA negotiations since October 2013.

Mr Ali said this is due to a number of unresolved contentious issues.

Amongst these are the fisheries issues, especially EUs access to fisheries stocks and conservation and management measures, remains a key stumbling bloc towards concluding the negotiations.

Feedback:  rachnal@fijisun.com.fj

 




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