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A-G: No short-term deal

Economic partnership agreement seen as precedent for future trade negotiations

Fiji will not be a party to an agreement that may provide only short-term market access into the European Union (EU).

This was stated by the Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, in his opening address to the Pacific ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) Ministers yesterday.

These Ministers are here for the two-day Pacific ACP Trade and Fisheries Ministers Meeting in Suva to develop a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum stressed a short-term agreement would have a long-term negative impact on our development aspirations as a nation and our ability to have control over our resources and economies.

“We need to think beyond tomorrow, and the next five years or the next 20 years. We need to ensure our future generations are secure,” he said.

Some Pacific ACP countries, including Fiji, have preferential access into the EU market under an interim EPA for some products. This comes to an end on October 1.

“We need to make crucial decisions, as a single, unified grouping – decisions that will not only shape our immediate future but the long term development of our region,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

He said we are at a juncture where certain questions need to be asked.

These include, he said: “Is it still in our interest to pursue a Comprehensive EPA? If yes, do we go forward as a single region? How can we achieve an EPA that benefits us all? The only answer to that is to negotiate as a united, cohesive and effective Pacific ACP group.”

(Source: Fiji Sun)