A-G highlightes inadequate funding from EU for pacific ACP region
The Fijian Government feels since the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations began a decade ago, Pacific ACP region has been ignored by the EU for at least 25 per cent of the time.
The Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said when negotiations resumed in 2012, the EU has failed in giving us an agreement better than the Interim EPA (as promised in 2007).
“But, EU has made more demands, and pushing us to agree to what is on the table or go back to the Interim EPA. In this process, they have encouraged division in our region.”
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum made these comments in his opening address at the two-day Pacific ACP Trade and Fisheries Ministers Meeting.
He described it as encouraging to note that Papua New Guinea had agreed to attend the meeting as an observer despite withdrawing from negotiations in Brussels the past year.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum further said the EU had made the claim that it was the second largest donor in the Pacific and a substantial amount of that is Aid for Trade.
Appreciating the EU funding, he highlighted that compared to the aid for trade provided to the African and Caribbean states, there’s no question the Pacific gets inadequate, if not, the smallest share.
“These provisions in the EPA are skewed in favour of the EU, who are the judge, jury and executioners in determining,” he said.
“Whether there is a violation of the political provisions and have the freedom to invoke illegal trade sanctions in response. There is no independent adjudication and the opinion of the Pacific ACP as contracting parties of the EPA does not matter in these provisions.”
Direction for talks
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum called upon the ministers to set the direction of these negotiations.
This was whether to continue and finalise then by May/June 2014 or suspend them.
“This is keeping in mind a new European Parliament will be elected in May and a new Trade Commissioner will take office in September,” he said.
“We have to decide the best option. We have to ask ourselves whether we are just going through the motions and will not achieve anything?.
“We have to ask ourselves should we redirect our limited resources elsewhere?”
(Source: Fiji Sun)