Pacific Islands / Pacific Forum
As the deadline for a new trade deal with the European Union approaches, the question on people’s minds is: Are developing countries in the Pacific still willing to play?
The European Union and Pacific countries agreed on Tuesday to seek an interim new trade deal, to enter into force on 1 January, while they continue negotiating an EPA by end of 2008.
The combination of the time-factor, the TRIPS-plus implications of many of the elements suggested by the EC, the challenges that would face non-WTO Pacific countries to even adhere to TRIPS and the general level of development in these countries, it is strongly recommended that Pacific countries do not agree to the inclusion of an IP section in the EC-Pacific EPA.
Some Pacific island countries stand to lose up to US$10 million annually in revenue due to trade liberalisation under the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations, according to a report commissioned by the Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Forum
Pacific trade officials and legal experts have expressed their disappointment and deep concern at the draft text proposed by the European Commission for an Economic Partnership Agreement covering trade in goods, trade in services, fisheries, investment and development cooperation.
According to the organizers, this year’s US-NZ Partnership Forum will in part focus on the, “potential for the United States and New Zealand to cooperate on ... economic development and sustainability in the Asia Pacific region.”
Pacific trade officials and legal experts from 14 Pacific Island nations have just spent 3 days examing Europe’s draft agreement in detail and are deeply concerned about the text (audio)
This study was prompted by concern among some of the smaller Forum
Island Countries about the impact of the introduction of the Pacific
Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) on their local economies and,
specifically, the impact of a reduction in tariffs on government revenues.
Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister said the Pacific trade ministers "have had some schooling and know how to read English. It is untrue that the Pacific misinterpreted the meaning (of the EC warning)."
This is the first time that members of the major business sector and representatives of private sector organisations from all 14 Pacific Forum Islands Countries will be coming together with regional ministers and senior policy officials to discuss major strategic business issues that face the region.
The EC’s Head of Delegation to the Pacific has sent to the Pacific EPA negotiating team a letter dated Friday 3 August that states Pacific Trade Ministers have misinterpreted an earlier EC communication and there is no conditionality that would reduce the EDF funds available to the Pacific if the region does not sign an EPA.
Pacific Trade Ministers have responded to a threat by the EC to cut development aid funds to the region if the Pacific does not conclude the EPA by the end of the year. In a strongly worded letter to the EC Commissioner for Development, they stated they would “not accept the EC imposing this linkage on the RIP with respect to the EPA.”
Just before the Pacific ACP Trade Ministers Meeting opened in Vanuatu on 31 July 2007, the Deputy Head of the Pacific desk in the EC’s DG Development sent the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat an email that stated the Pacific’s allocation of the European Development Fund would be cut by 48% if it does not sign up to an EPA and by 26% if a goods-only agreement is concluded.
The Pacific Forum has for the first time publicly admitted there have been problems in sealing an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.
The Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) and AID/WATCH are pleased to invite you to a strategy workshop on the FTAs entitled: “To Oppose FTAs: Making People Matter”, that will take place on September 4-6, 2007 in Sydney, Australia. The Strategy Workshop on the FTAs is an open and public gathering of trade campaigners within the region specifically timed to coincide with the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Sydney.
Australia says it wants trade rights in the South Pacific equal to those being negotiated by the European Union.
Pacific Islands Countries need to develop technically sound demands in negotiating the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) says Deputy Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat, Peter Forau.
With only six months left for the African, Caribbean and Pacific bloc of states to have its economic partnership agreement with the European Union negotiated, sealed and signed, the 14 Pacific members of the alliance are more worried about word usage.
A meeting in August is likely to explore the possibility of a free trade agreement between Pacific Island countries and New Zealand and Australia but rapid progress is not expected.