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Pacific ACP united against pressure

Fiji Times | Suva | October 24, 2006

Pacific ACP united against pressure

THE Pacific ACP region will not give in to pressure from the European Commission regarding the Economic Partnership Agreement.

Opening the Pacific ACP leaders meeting in Nadi yesterday, Papua New Guinea prime minister Sir Michael Somare said after much negotiation, the European Commission had conceded that not all Pacific ACPs would need to sign up to a single, comprehensive EPA.

"The trade in goods component could form an attachment or protocol to the main EPA to which the EU and all PACPS would sign up to,"he said

Sir Michael said the region had gone to great lengths to prepare and submit its position papers to the commission and "the responses to the submissions from the EU to date have been less than satisfactory."

He believes the region must maintain its solidarity and said they must negotiate what they believed an EPA that truly reflected the needs and aspirations of their members were obtained.

"I note the Pacific ACP states are prepared to move forward with a view to concluding a successful EPA negotiation by December 2007,"he said.

"However, through the process of our negotiations, we must ensure that the EPA must be development oriented and truly reflect the unique character of our region before our members can sign off with EU.

"We must maintain our solidarity and collective bargaining as our strength in order to obtain the best for our people to enable us to integrate among ourselves first and than into the wider world economy."

In terms of trade in goods agreement, Sir Michael said the region had put to the EU that not all members traded goods with the EU so it might be difficult for all to participate in the agreement.

"One of the new developments in the EPA negotiations is that all Pacific ACP states have shown interest in becoming a party to a trade in services agreement,"Sir Michael said.

 source: Fiji Times