The European Union has reiterated their commitment to the region’s growth and economic development and says this should not be called into question.
The comments follow comments from the Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Shaheen Ali, during the Pacific ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) Trade and Fisheries Officials meeting.
Ali had said the Pacific ACP has been treated similar to any other ACP country or any other advanced negotiating partner of the European Commission.
But, Adam Janssen, head of Political, Trade, Press and Information section at EU Delegation for the Pacific, said: “The European Union is very much aware of the specificities of Pacific States compared to the other ACP regions.”
Janssen said EU is the second largest donor in the Pacific and an important part of their assistance was aid for trade, designed to support economic development and integration.
“No other trade agreement offers full free access to the EU market combined with the level of asymmetry that the EPA offers.”
Janssen said the start of EPA negotiation was delayed mainly because Pacific countries were working on market access offers.
“These offers were submitted in 2012 and 2013. We have had four rounds of negotiations on the Pacific comprehensive EPA since October 2012,” he said.
Janssen said on the other hand, the Pacific countries have so far not agreed to discuss, as part of the EPA negotiations, their key concerns on the sustainable management of fisheries resources.
“Without substantial commitments by Pacific, EU is not in a position to make an offer on extended global sourcing. We cannot risk supporting unsustainable fishing practices, which would also be in contradiction with our domestic fisheries policy,” he said.
“Pacific is the only ACP region that has obtained, as part of interim EPA, global sourcing for processed, preserved fish. No other region has obtained – or will obtain – such a concession from the EU.”
SUVA, (FIJI SUN)