Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, permanent secretary Shaheen Ali.Photo:SUPPLIED.
Fiji has maintained the need for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union that takes into account the Pacific region’s concerns and interests.
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, permanent secretary Shaheen Ali said the recent development on the negotiation front has not been in the best interest of the Pacific and it was time for the region to take control.
Speaking at the Special Pacific-African, Caribbean and Pacific Trade and Fisheries officials meeting in Suva today, he said Fiji wanted one EPA for the region that was development oriented and addressed some of the core demands in fisheries and development cooperation.
“There is no doubt that Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is important for the Pacific’s relations with the EU, beyond 2020,” Mr Ali said.
“However, the CEPA should not come at the expense of our regional integration, our policy space, our right of self-determination and our sovereignty.”
He called for flexibility and consideration from the EU as it is needed to take into account the Pacific nations’ size and vulnerabilities because this was not the case at the moment.
“This was very clearly demonstrated by the EC Trade Commissioner’s letter to the Pacific ACP, on 24 March 2015, which effectively called for a deferment in the negotiations, unless the Pacific side made specific commitments, with regards to the issues relating to conservation and management measures in fisheries,” Mr Ali said.
Fiji has provisionally an interim EPA (IEPA) to allow for trade with European nations to continue but has continued to advocate and is committed to the regional process.
Trade Ministers from the region will be meeting tomorrow to discuss further the issue of CEPA.