Fijian Trade Ministry meets ACP Head


 Fijian Trade Ministry meets ACP Head

 The Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Mr. Shaheen Ali met with the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Secretary General, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas in the margins of the ACP Fisheries Ministers meeting in Nadi. 

“The meeting was to discuss Fiji’s participation in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations with the EU, Fiji’s role in the ACP and Fiji’s participation in the Pacific ACP (PACP)” said Mr. Ali. 

The meeting reaffirmed that Fiji is a founding member of ACP and continues to play an active role in the ACP and the hosting of 3rd ACP Fisheries Ministers meeting, for example, demonstrates this commitment. The Permanent Secretary stated that the Fijian Government will continue to cooperate and work closely with the ACP Secretariat and ACP members on issues such as trade, climate change and sustainable development. 

“It is encouraging to note that the 37th Joint ACP-EU Council meeting, which was held in Port Vila, underscored the fact that the EU needs to give due consideration to the concerns of Fiji and the Pacific ACP (PACP) states and increase its level of engagement with the Pacific in the negotiations of a mutually beneficial regional EPA” said Mr. Ali.  

“The ACP Secretariat has supported PACP’s position that the Interim EPA is not the final solution as far as a long term economic partnership between the EU and PACP is concerned, therefore, both parties need to work towards a regional Comprehensive EPA, which is pro-development and pro-trade” added Mr. Ali. 

With regards to the contentious issues that exists in the Interim EPA, the meeting agreed that these needed to be expediently resolved through active engagement and discussions and the Pacific’s request for ‘global sourcing’ provisions for fresh, frozen and chilled fish positively considered, given the potential of ‘global sourcing’ to contribute to the socio-economic development of PACP states. 

The ACP Secretary General supported Fiji’s full participation in Pacific ACP meeting and activities, at all levels, as is her “state party” rights under the Georgetown Agreement and Cotonou Agreement. This was also important for Fiji’s effective contribution towards the finalization of EPA negotiations. The Permanent Secretary mentioned Fiji’s participation in the PACP was also crucial towards the realizing its share of regional European Development Fund (EDF) and Aid for Trade (AfT), thus should not be impeded.  

The Permanent Secretary congratulated the ACP Secretariat on the effective advocacy and lobbying, with the European Parliament and other stakeholders, against the European Commission’s plan to withdraw by 2014, market access for ACP countries (like Fiji) that have initialed/singed an Interim or Full EPA but have yet to ratify it.  

The ACP Secretary General and the Permanent Secretary agreed that “regional integration” is one of the central pillars of the ACP-EU Partnership under the Cotonou Agreement and it is essential to the well-being and integration of ACP countries into the world economy. Similarly, regional integration is also an essential pillar of the People’s Charter and part of the Pacific Plan, therefore, our regional stakeholders and partners need to ensure that the process of moving the Pacific towards a stronger economic union is not harmed by their actions.