ACP says deferment of EPA negotiation by the EU to the Pacific unacceptable

Pacific Islands News Association: 

Friday, 12 June 2015

The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) has labelled ‘unacceptable’ the decision by the European Union to defer to three years the conclusion of the the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Pacific.

ACP Secretary General Doctor Patrick Gomes, without mincing his word says the deferment is a stumbling bloc and unrealistic if it is based on access to management of fisheries resources in the Pacific region.

“The deferment is a stumbling block for the Pacific. We do not find that acceptable at all.”

“It’s nowhere realistic under the condition of fisheries and managing of fisheries resources for island states for such a period,” Gomes told journalists in Suva.

The co – Chair of the ACP- EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Jamaican Fitz Jackson concur with the view of the ACP Secretary General, hoping the issue will resolved when the two parties meet next week during the 26th Session of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA).

“We are aware of the situation regarding the recommended deferment of three years by the EU one that does not find favour amongst our ACP colleagues. It’s a matter that will be raised in the JPA with our EU partners. We hope that will be revisited and I’m hoping out of those deliberations our EU colleagues will find common ground and move expeditiously to conclude the discussion with Pacific states regarding the EPA, said Jackson.

Jackson said the Pacific wants to conclude the EPA with EU as soon as practicable.

“The Pacific countries are basically saying let us accelerate the negotiation, lets us conclude them and not put in a time frame of three years, its simple as that. We want to accelerate the process in a short possible time,” said Jackson.

The stalled EPA negotiation is understood be based on a number of contentious issues including the EU’s access to fisheries stock and conservation and management measures.

The Pacific region has the largest tuna stocks in the world and there have been significant differences between the EU and the Pacific ACP states.

More than ten years later, negotiations are still far from conclusion. Fiji and PNG have signed the interim EPA.

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

But it has consistently maintained that Fiji’s objective is to have a comprehensive agreement, rather than an Interim Agreement, that has a development at its centre.

This can only be achieved through all Pacific ACP countries negotiating as a single region with the EU to deliver a mutually beneficial development oriented comprehensive EPA.

Fiji will be hosting the Joint ACP - EU Parliamentary Assembly next week in Suva.

Read story: Pacific Islands News Association

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