Another round of talks starts with EU

Another round of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement will start in Brussels today.
The meeting will be between the Pacific ACP (Africa Caribbean Pacific) states and the European Commission senior officials.

The Technical Working Group meeting on fisheries will be held from June 24 to 27 while the Joint Technical Working Group meeting will be from July 1 to 5.

Representing Fiji is the Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Shaheen Ali.

Mr Ali said they are looking to address all contentious and outstanding issues in the Economic Partnership Agreement as much issues as possible.

The agreement timeslines

The Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations have been ongoing for the last 10 years and the deadline for concluding the negotiations has been set as at October 1, 2014.

Failure to conclude negotiations on a full and comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement would mean the ACP states get subjected to less than favourable trade agreements with the European Union.

Mr Ali said particularly with regards to fisheries chapter and the global sourcing rules, they want to ensure that the timeline given by the ministers which is to conclude this year can be kept.

“These timelines are important because they do have an impact on our economy,” he said.
“This is in particular with regards to the European Union announcement to withdraw preferential access for countries that have not ratified the interim agreement.

“So in that respect, we want a comprehensive economic partnership to be negotiated on the table, something that is of mutual benefit to the party with the Pacific and the European Union.”

Negotiation expectations

He said it should also be something that can take Fiji forward to be in line with our development aspirations, our development goals by the Fijian Government.

“It should be something that can take us forward and trigger a development oriented agreement that can empower our economy and secure our market to create jobs,” he said.

Fisheries and other products

Mr Ali said they are hoping to resolve all the technical concerns with regards to the fisheries chapter.

“We are also looking forward to hearing some favourable positions with regards to the global sourcing rules for fresh and frozen fish from the EU,” he said.

Mr Ali said there are some products which are unique to Fiji only and one such products would be life jackets produced in Fiji which they will be discussing for preferential access.

“Our biscuits and confectionaries that are produced here is another thing,” he said.
“We will be looking to discuss with the EU as to how we can improve the rules of origin for those products.

“In addition to some of the other contentious issues that infringes on our policy state, that infringes on our development policy and also some of the political issues.”

(Source: Fiji Sun)