19 Jun 2006

EPAs a new approach to development assistance after preferential access dropped -EU official

8:19 pm on 19 June 2006

The European Union has defended its planned Economic Partnership Agreements with aid recipient nations saying they are an answer to World Trade Organisation pressures to end preferential market access.

Civil society groups in the Pacific are opposed to the EPAs being implemented without more consultation and impact studies being undertaken.

They say the economies of Pacific countries will be hurt by the removal of tariffs, but the head of the EU delegation in Suva, Roberto Ridolfi, says Europe sells little to the region.

He says the EPAs were conceived as the development answer when the EU was forced by the WTO to end preferential access for products such as sugar.

"In a way the EPA were conceived as the development answer due to the coming less of preferential access of ACP products to Europedue to the challenges that were forced into the WTO arena by agricultural tigers, - such as Brazil, Thailand, Australia."