Caution over EPA

The Fiji Times:

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The expeditious conclusion of the economic partnership agreement negotiations between the Pacific-African Caribbean Pacific states and European Union should not compromise development benefits that the Pacific ACP region wishes to achieve through EPA, says Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat deputy secretary general Andie Fong Toy.

Speaking at the Pacific ACP trade and fisheries ministerial meeting in Suva last week, Ms Fong Toy said it was important to recognise that the EPA as a trade agreement may be more valuable for certain countries than others in the region.

"However, of mutual importance to all Pacific ACP states, is our relation with the EU. At this stage, we are unsure of what the nature, shape and form of a new agreement with the EU will be after the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020," she said.

"Apart from being a trade agreement, the EPA is also an institutional and legal framework that can continue our engagement with the EU post-2020.

"The EPA will be an agreement with an indefinite lifespan. The agreement cannot burden our future generations with the obligations from the potentially harmful provisions in the draft agreement but instead must provide economic opportunities to achieve sustainable growth and development."

She said there were many obstacles and none greater than the European Commission's resistance to the earlier proposals submitted by the Pacific ACP states to resolve the fisheries issues.

Ms Fong Toy said there were a number of developments pointing to the importance of concluding the negotiations within the next few months including the deadline for the amendment to market access regulation 1528/2009 that came into effect on October 1, 2013 as well as the expiry of the trade commissioner's term in office in September/October this year.

Read story: The Fiji Times

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