PACIFIC TRADE MINISTERS MEET IN FIJI

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EU negotiating with 76 nations

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 20, 2008) - Pacific Trade Ministers are meeting today and tomorrow in Nadi to discuss a deal that will shape trading relations with the European Union (EU) for decades to come.

The talks involve negotiations for a new Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.

Last week Caribbean leaders meeting in Barbados signed their own EPA with the EU, amidst much criticism.

Maureen Penjueli, coordinator of the Pacific Network on Globalisation, said Pacific leaders can still avoid signing a "disastrous" deal like the EPA signed by the Caribbean.

She said it was important Pacific ministers took a sobering lesson from the Caribbean experience.

"It contains virtually nothing for the Caribbean, but instead opens the Caribbean to European exports, businesses and service providers, and contains new rules on trade that have been rejected by developing countries at the WTO."

This deal is not a recipe for economic partnership, but a menu to serve European economic interests, she said.

The EU is negotiating with 76 nations across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (the ACP) all at once.

The acting Fiji Foreign Affairs Minister’s permanent secretary Parmesh Chand, said he is in a meeting and will comment later.

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