Pacific ACP Seeks to Conclude 11 Year Negotiation with EUNewsroom
After 11 years of Pacific ACP countries negotiating for an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union, Pacific Trade and Fisheries ministers last week in Fiji called for a political dialogue with the EU to conclude the trade negotiation this year.
Frustration over the dragged-on negotiation for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Pacific ACP countries and the European Union (EU) were expressed by speakers during a two-day Special Pacific ACP Trade and Fisheries Ministers official Preparatory meeting in Fiji on 16-17 July.
The Preparatory meeting was for ministers to agree on a recommendation to be presented to Pacific Leaders when they meet in Port Moresby PNG in September.
The latest set back in the EPA negotiation according to Dame Meg Taylor, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, was in a letter from the European Union Trade Commissioner in March, proposing a three year deferment in the EPA negotiations, citing the outstanding contentious issues on fisheries conservation and management as the key reason. There was also a reference to a review of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Vessel Day Scheme.
Under the PNA Vessel Day Scheme VDS, the eight PNA member countries have seen revenue increase five times since 2010, going from $64 million to an estimated $350 million this year, stated by Dr Transform Aqorau, the CEO of PNA in a report published on 1 July.
The eight member countries of PNA are: the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.
PNA has been a champion for marine conservation and management, taking unilateral action to conserve overfished big-eye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
However, but getting back to the dragged on negotiation on the Economic Partnership Agreement between the Pacific ACP and the EU the Pacific Forum Deputy Secretary General Andie Fong Toy in a speech at the Preparatory Meeting pointed out that the 15 Pacific ACP member countries have invested significant time and resources in this negotiation, with a powerful and well resourced European Commission representing the biggest trading block on the EU.
“While a number of contentious issues remain on the negotiating table, including on trade in goods, the fisheries conservation and management issues by far has been the ost challenging to resolve.
We are at the stage where the future of the comprehensive EPA rests on the progress we can make on the fisheries issues,” she said.
The fifteen members of the Pacific ACP are: Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshal Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau and Timor Leste
(Story courtesy of Matangi Tonga Online.)