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Shaheen Reminds EU That Pacific ACP Deserves More Flexibility, Consideration

The Pacific ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) region comprises the smallest economies and the most vulnerable economies of the world. It therefore deserves flexibility, consideration, moreso, than other trading partners of
17 Jul 2015 11:00
Shaheen Reminds EU That Pacific ACP Deserves More Flexibility, Consideration
Permanent Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Shaheen Ali and Kiribati counterpart. Photo: Paulini Ratulailai

The Pacific ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) region comprises the smallest economies and the most vulnerable economies of the world.

It therefore deserves flexibility, consideration, moreso, than other trading partners of the European Union, including the rest of the ACP region.

This was the reminder given to the European Union as the Pacific ACP state’s negotiating partners by the Permanent Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Shaheen Ali.

He stated this was not the case at the moment.

Mr Ali was speaking during the opening of the Pacific ACP Trade and Fisheries Officials meeting at the Suvavou House in Suva yesterday.

“This was very clearly demonstrated by the European Commission Trade Commissioner’s letter to the Pacific ACP, on March 24, 2015,” he said.

“It effectively called for a deferment in the negotiations, unless the Pacific side made specific commitments, with regards to the issues relating to conservation and management measures in fisheries.”

Mr Ali therefore called on the officials to consider the next steps which would provide the region with the best option.

These would be in terms of its sustainable development goals, future relations with the EU, regional integration and sovereignty, and policy space.

 

Discussions

Mr Ali stressed the focussed discussions to be held yesterday would be key as to whether they continue to pursue Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations.

And if so, under which terms and what timelines, he said.

“These are the guidelines and recommendations we need to give to our Trade and Fisheries Ministers, who will meet tomorrow.

“As a region, rather than leveraging our collective power, we have been forced to accept what is on the table.

“This has been the result of unilateral actions of the EU, whether it’s changing its market access regulations or suspending negotiations.”

Mr Ali told delegates that they also have to consider progress of other ACP regions and draw lessons for their benefit.

“We also need to reconfigure our approach given that Papua New Guinea (PNG) has announced its formal withdrawal from the negotiations,” he said.

“In determining our way forward, we need to consider all alternatives to the Comprehensive EPA that is on the table.

“This includes the concept of “IEPA Plus” that was advocated by PNG and the EU, together with other options such the EU’s unilateral GSP and GSP Plus, and Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement for LDCs.

“The task before us is not easy, as we are at an important stage in the 12-year long journey of Comprehensive EPA negotiations.

“As Pacific ACP representatives, we need to approach the discussions with an open-mind and our region’s collective interest at the forefront.”

Feedback: rachael.nath@fijisun.com.fj

 


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