EPA delay likely

The Fiji Times:

Wednesday, 09 April 2014

The election of the European Union parliament next month and the expiration of the trade commissioner's term in September could delay the processes and conclusion of the economic partnership agreement (EPA) negotiations, the Pacific-African Caribbean Pacific trade and fisheries meeting heard.

And according to Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat deputy secretary-general Andie Fong Toy, this could present the risk of losing momentum in the EPA negotiations.

She said this also made it all the more reason stakeholders needed to act swiftly in their decision-making on EPA.

"We need to have very frank discussions on each and every issue regarding EPA.

"We need to determine how the EPA negotiations are to continue and for us to indicate our absolute red lines," she said.

"The EU has given us some indication of the flexibility but we need to assess whether those flexibilities are enough to go forward before we determine our position."

However, she said the EU trade commissioner and the Pacific-ACP ministers agreed to a roadmap for the conclusion of the EPA next month.

This commitment to a timeline, Ms Fong Toy said, had been sought by the P-ACP states.

"The other important time pressure on us is the market access regulation 1528 2007, imposed by the EU with an October 2014 deadline, for parties to meet this deadline.

"Noting the important notification requirements, we understand the decision point for engagement in the interim EPA would be around May 2014.

"We call on the EU to support the timely conclusion of an EPA that is beneficial to all parties."

Ms Fong Toy said participants at the meeting would need to assess benefits and risks and make a collective decision that would benefit P-ACP region as a whole.

Read story: The Fiji Times

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