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European Parliamentarian says Pacific EPAs must be changed

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, Fiji

European Parliamentarian says Pacific EPAs must be changed

28 November 2008

Concerns have been raised that the European Commission should allow Pacific countries to use export taxes for development purposes and that Economic Partnership Agreements should include adequate protection for infant industries.

This was a concern raised at the joint African, Caribbean and Pacific- European Union parliamentary assembly by European parliament member, Glyn Ford.

Ford is responsible for reporting on EPA negotiations in Pacific countries.

He told the meeting that free trade deals initialled between the EU and Pacific countries must be changed to reflect the development needs of the region.

Ford says he would recommend the European Parliament to vote “no” to the interim agreement unless contentious issues in the interim EPAs are addressed.

Ford also says any new deal on services must allow Pacific workers entry into Europe to provide services.

He also raised concerns about intellectual property protection, saying new rules in the EPA should not be “just for Western technical artefacts”.

Ford adds opening up public procurement to foreign business must be “consistent with Pacific states’ needs”.

Pacific Network on Globalisation coordinator Maureen Penjueli has welcomed the intervention.

PNG and Fiji initialled interim EPAs in late 2007 to protect market access for exports of tuna and sugar to Europe.

If PNG and Fiji go ahead and sign the interim EPAs, the deals then go to the European Parliament for discussion and approval.