EU: Commitment To Pacific-ACP Countries ‘Should Not Be Questioned’

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Negotiator says Pacific is getting better EPA deal than other regions

By Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 9, 2014) – The European Union believes that their commitment to the Pacific-Asian Caribbean Pacific countries should not be questioned.

Head of the Political, Trade, Press and Information section at the EU Delegation for the Pacific Adam Janssen told FijiLive that no other trade agreement offers full free access to the EU market combined with the level of asymmetry that the EPA offers.

"So our commitment to the region's growth and economic development should not be called into question," Janssen said.

He says the beginning of the EPA negotiation was delayed mainly because the Pacific countries were working on their market access offers, an essential element of any preferential trade agreement.

"These offers were submitted in 2012 and 2013, and were then discussed in detail during the various rounds of negotiations.

"We have had four rounds of negotiations on the Pacific comprehensive EPA since October 2012, including a ministerial meeting in December 2013, for which the EU Trade Commissioner travelled to the Solomon Islands. This clearly demonstrates the EU's commitment to the Pacific EPA," Janssen said.

On the other hand, he says, the Pacific countries have so far not agreed to discuss, as part of the EPA negotiations, EU’s key concerns on the sustainable management of fisheries resources.

"Without substantial commitments by the Pacific in this area, the EU is not in a position to make an offer on extended global sourcing, as we cannot risk supporting unsustainable fishing practices, which would also be in contradiction with our domestic fisheries policy.

"The Pacific is the only ACP region that has obtained, as part of the interim EPA, global sourcing for processed and preserved fish."

Janssen said the developmental effects of global sourcing were illustrated by the important recent investments in the fish processing sector in Papua New Guinea.

"No other region has obtained – or will obtain – such a concession from the EU. This demonstrates that the EU takes into account the particular needs of the Pacific region."

Janssen’s comments follows statements by the chairperson of the PACP Fisheries and Trade officials meeting, Shaheen Ali who said that the European Commission’s approach towards the EPA negotiations have been far from development friendly in that it was disengaged from the EPA negotiations.

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