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EPA draft ready for endorsement: Expert

Fiji Times, Suva

EPA draft ready for endorsement: Expert

12 June 2007

Fiji’s first technical draft offers to the European Union on an Economic Partnership Agreement have yet to receive the interim Government’s endorsement, says Forum Secretariat consultant, Mere Falemaka.

Ms Falemaka made the comment at the workshop on Pacific, African, Caribbean Pacific Economic Negotiations for Fiji stakeholders.

She said emphasis of the first technical draft was on the selection of potential sectors with market access and national treatment.

Ms Falemaka said the PACP countries were seeking an EPA that accommodated the diverse interests of PACPs and was flexible and developmental.

She said priority areas identified by most ACP states were tourism, fisheries, investment promotion and protection, temporary movement of people and others.

Another consultant Jim Gosselin said in Fiji’s case, its sugar exports to the EU was a major issue of concern and one that could affect its position on the EPA.

He said the difficulty with dealing Fiji’s sugar exports stemmed from the fact that it was linked to a separate and parallel negotiating process taking place between the EU and ACP sugar suppliers of the sugar protocol.

Since June 2000, starting at the ACP level the EPA preparatory stage for the negotiation of regional economic partnership agreements for the six ACP began.

The phase one of the EPA process covered issues of all ACP application and phase two is the regional phase where actual EPA took place.

This phase started in 2004 and is expected to conclude before or on 31 December 2007.