Have robust discussions on EPA: Forum Secretariat

Pacific Islands News Association:

Tuesday, 08 April 2014

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat deputy secretary general has called on Pacific ACP member countries to have robust discussions on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

Addressing representatives of the Trade and Fisheries officials meeting, Andie Fong Toy said the PACP have reached a critical juncture in efforts to secure a comprehensive EPA.

“We undertook this journey in 2004 when the negotiation of the EPA was launched for the Pacific region. A decade later, we are still negotiating the EPA,” she said.

“As representatives of your country, you will need to assess the benefits and the risks that each issue presents to you and how a collective decision can benefit the Pacific ACP region as a whole.”

Fong Toy further said the Forum Secretariat and other technical experts would provide their views on the issues, but the decisions would be for the countries to make on how they were to proceed to reach an agreement that would be beneficial to all the PACPS.

“We are fully aware of the difficulties we have had in the EPA negotiations, and we need to reflect on them as we go forward. We need to have very frank discussions on each and every issue regarding the EPA," she said.

“We need to determine how the EPA negotiations are to continue, and for us to clearly indicate our absolute red lines.”

She further says the European Union has given the PACP countries some indications on the flexibilities which the countries need to assess whether they are enough to go forward with another round of negotiations.

“We need to look at all the contentious issues before we determine our position,” Fong Toy said.

The officials' meeting ends tomorrow during which they are expected to have finalised recommendations on possible approaches that could be taken to secure a comprehensive EPA that benefits all Pacific Island countries ahead of negotiations with the EU.

These recommendations will then be submitted for the ministers’ consideration when they convene for the PACP Trade Ministers meeting which is scheduled to start on Thursday in Suva..... 

Read story: Pacific Islands News Association

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