Pacific Forum Secretariat | 18 Jul 2015
Pacific Ministers call for EU’s commitment to the EPA
The PACP Trade and Fisheries Ministers met in Suva, Fiji on 17 July 2015.
1. Ministers expressed concerns at the EU’s proposal to defer the EPA negotiations and reaffirmed their intent to continue engagement in the comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations as a region with solidarity.
2. The Pacific region values its relationship with the EU and its continuation beyond the expiry of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020.
3. The Ministers also emphasized that the comprehensive EPA must be a development-oriented agreement which delivers benefits to all Members including flexible rules of origin to allow them to export fish steaks and fillets to the EU and additional financial resources to enable them to develop the productive capacity to address their trade and development challenges.
4. The Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment and efforts to maintain sound fisheries management and conservation of the fisheries resources in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and to combating Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing, noting that these efforts are ongoing and require cooperation and assistance of the Distant Water Fishing Nations, including the EU.
5. The Ministers highlighted that the interim EPA in its current form is not the preferable option for most parties as it has no development benefits especially for smaller island states that may not be able to set up canneries.
6. The Ministers are concerned that interim EPA also contains provisions that could constrain development policy space for the region.
7. Ministers are concerned that the EPA negotiations have been going on for more than 10 years and called for a commitment by EU for a political dialogue to find a mutually satisfactory conclusion of a comprehensive EPA in 2015.