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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

ACP wants regional EPA’s, not interim agreements with individual members

The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group, which represents 14 Forum Island Countries wants the European Union (EU) to ‘slow down’ on signing interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with member countries. Instead, the EU should now focus on a comprehensive EPA with all of the ACP’s six regions – in line with the agreement’s objective to reinforce regional integration. It’s been three years since the expiry of the signing of a comprehensive EPA between the Pacific and the European Union. Only Fiji and Papua New Guinea have broken ranks from the Pacific and agreed to sign interim EPA’s. Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, secretary general of the ACP outlined the group’s position while speaking to Pacific journalists in Port Vila Tuesday (3 August). He is attending the 41st Pacific Islands Forum Leaders summit. “So far both sides agree that the process has not been satisfactory. In some  regions, an interim EPA has been signed separately with individual countries, thereby creating different trading regimes within regions. This defeats the principle objective of reinforcing regional integration, said Dr Chambas. EPA must now be brought back within a regional perspective to ensure that the ultimate agreement is between regions – the EU and the Pacific and not with individual member countries.