Speaking at the PACP trade and fisheries meeting in Suva last week, she said, 2013 was one of the most challenging years of the EPA negotiations, adding significant time, effort and resources had been spent on negotiating a meaningful EPA.
"EPA also has the potential to bring meaningful provisions for global sourcing, in particular, for the development of the fisheries sector in the region, and it can have significant economic and development benefits," she said.
"The fisheries processing facilities recently opened in PNG and Kiribati are good examples of economic and development benefits that could be achieved.
"It also helps in creating formal sector employment especially for women."
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat deputy secretary general Andie Fong Toy said fisheries was a common resource to all PACP states.
"We should ensure the EPA provisions allow for the sustainable development and that the benefit of fisheries trade accrue to the people of the Pacific. In going forward with EPA negotiations, we need to take into account the best modality for engagement and find areas in which we can show flexibility without seriously compromising our interests.
"The region is strongest when we all stand together and not allow others to use tactics to delay negotiations and lead to the inevitable consequence of PACP having only the option of the interim EPA."
She said they needed to move forward as a region if they wanted a development-friendly comprehensive EPA for all PACP states.
Suva (Fiji Times)