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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 3, 2001 - PINA Nius Online)---The Pacific Islands Forum is representing the region at an important African, Caribbean, Pacific group meeting opening in Brussels today.

The representatives of the ACP Regional Integration are working on the configuration of ACP regions, which will have to negotiate Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union effective September 2002.

An ACP news release said the following organisations are taking part: Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Economic and Monetary Community of West Africa (CEMAC), Central African Economic Community (CAEC), CARICOM, Pacific Islands Forum, and Intergovernmental Authority of Development (IGAD).

The ACP news release said the definition of these regional entities is of singular importance since it will significantly condition the outcome of future trade negotiations both with the European Union and within the framework of the WTO.

The ACP States consider regional economic integration to be a step towards their integration into the global economy, and that the support provided by the European Union must be coherent in terms of objectives and policies.

The news release said it is therefore necessary to avoid situations where countries are confronted with antagonistic obligations owing to their membership in several organisations.

The Cotonou Agreement between the Europeans and the ACP group stipulates that the definition of the regions for the purpose of negotiating EPAs should be decided by the ACP states. But it does not specify the options open to countries that belong to several regional organisations.

The most obvious option for the countries concerned is to choose the organization with which they prefer to be associated.

There are no formal links between the definition of ACP regions and regional cooperation as provided for by the Cotonou Agreement and included in the previous Lomé Conventions. But the European Commission has indicated that EDF resources will not be allocated to regions that have not yet adopted a decision on this matter, the ACP news release said.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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