2 Mar 2007

Pacific pleas with EU to give more time and be more flexible in EPA negotiations

2:59 pm on 2 March 2007

The NGO Oxfam says there are serious concerns with the negotiations between Pacific countries and the European Union over the Economic Partnership Agreements the EU is aiming to conclude with those nations it provides aid to.

These agreements are due to be signed by the end of the year but Barry Coates of OXFAM New Zealand says a workshop this week in Fiji, involving stakeholders from around Pacific, called on the EU to respond constructively the proposals from the Pacific trade negotiators who are now in Europe for talks.

Oxfam's Barry Coates says the Pacific wants the EU to be more flexible on issues such as fishing, rules of origin, and labour market access, and to give more time and resources for the negotiation process.

"So that there can be consultation around some viable options for the Pacific, because at the moment the kind of deal that is on the table, I think the review [of the negotiations so far, conducted by the European Centre for Development Policy Management] is casting real doubts as to whether this is going to be in the Pacific's interest."