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Tuesday, 08 February 2011

Secretary General urges Pacific ACP States to unify

The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat urged Pacific ACP States to unite for strength in the international arena. “I have no doubt in my mind that we, Pacific islanders, have the resilience to make this work,” said Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade, when addressing Pacific ACP Ministers at their meeting held last week in Apia, Samoa. Pacific ACP Ministers gathered in Apia to deliberate on key issues surrounding negotiations with the European Union on a fair and comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Ministers also discussed regional trade issues related to engagement with the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Aid for Trade and developments under the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA). “Although we have been faced with unique challenges over the last six years of negotiations, I strongly believe that we have the ability to accomplish great things,” said Mr Slade, in relation to the region’s EPA negotiations with the EU. […] According to Mr Slade, progress of negotiations, thus far, falls short of initial expectations. This is reflected by the fact that only two Pacific ACP States – Papua New Guinea and Fiji – have since signed the interim Economic Partnership Agreement. “This should not be seen as a shortfall, but as a stepping-stone towards a comprehensive agreement,” said Mr Slade. “Let us foster the high-level political commitment that exists to give this process momentum and fruition. In your endeavours to progress this important work, you have my utmost assurance that I and your Secretariat remain committed and ready to assist.”