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Pacific countries encouraged to firm unified bloc for trade negotiations with EU

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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Pacific countries encouraged to firm unified bloc for trade negotiations with EU

Fiji’s trade minister and attorney general (AG), Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, is calling for Pacific unity in negotiations with the European Union (EU) on a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Pacific trade ministers are meeting in Solomon Islands from 10 December 2010 to prepare for discussions later this week in Honiara with the EU’s trade commissioner, Karel de Gucht.
In October 2013, the EU suspended Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations (CEPA) after Papua New Guinea (PNG), which already has an interim EPA, withdrew from the discussions because it did not want to lose access concessions it has already won for its canned fish products. PNG did not want these benefits to be reduced by the EU as a result of CEPA negotiations.
The EU wants a single comprehensive EPA with the Pacific nations that are members of the African Caribbean and Pacific group.
The Pacific countries want the same benefits that PNG has in its interim deal but the EU is setting tougher conditions to be met. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said approaching negotiations as a unified bloc is still the best option because it gives the region the maximum leverage to achieve the most favourable trade agreement. He added although Fiji has the biggest stake in the EPA negotiations given the size of its trade links with the EU, it wants to proceed with the rest of the region in order to find a solution that is in the best interests of all PACP states.

Source: Radio New Zealand International, Fijivillage.com