THE start of the economic partnership agreement (EPA) negotiation was delayed mainly because Pacific countries were working on their market access offers, says the European Union.
In reaction to critical remarks made at the Pacific-African Caribbean Pacific trade and fisheries meeting on EPA negotiations with the EU, Delegation of the EU for the Pacific head of political, trade, press and information, Adam Janssen, said the market access offers were 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,” he said.
“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.”
He said Pacific countries had not agreed to discuss, as part of the EPA negotiations, their 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,” Mr Janssen said.
“The Pacific is the only ACP region that has obtained, as part of the interim EPA, global sourcing for processed and preserved fish.
“The developmental effects of global sourcing are 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.”
He said this demonstrated that the EU took into account the particular needs of the Pacific region.”
Suva (Fiji Times)