Minister of fisheries and marine resources, Mr. Alfred Ghiro, assured his colleague Pacific Fisheries and Trade Ministers that Solomon Islands is fully committed to negotiate a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).
“It’s clear that we are now under severe time pressure and I urge us all to work together over the next few days and engage in open and frank discussions to ensure that we can harness this last chance at an EPA agreement that has real potential to benefit all our countries and peoples,” Mr. Ghiro told the ministers during their two-day meeting held last week in Suva, Fiji.
After almost 10 years trying to negotiate a development-friendly comprehensive EPA with the EU, a proposed meeting with the EU in Brussels later this month could very well be the defining moment for the EPA.
It has been a long and challenging process for Pacific Countries in their quest to ensure that their development concerns are reflected in the final agreement. And time is not on their side.
“Not only time wise but we are also faced with the painful reality that we have also run out of resources to continue the negotiations beyond June 2014. And with the EU’s proposal to withdraw preferential market access of our exports to their market as of 1 October 2014, the pressure is indeed upon us to conclude an agreement, not for the sake of it, but an agreement that would benefit all parties,” Mr. Ghiro emphasised.
Mr. Ghiro was accompanied to the ministerial meeting by his permanent secretary, Dr. Chris Ramofafia, trade negotiations envoy, Robert Sisilo, and Trade Policy Analyst, Mr. Cormac Magnan.