4 Oct 2007

Oxfam urges caution over interim deal between EU and Pacific

5:07 pm on 4 October 2007

Oxfam New Zealand has sounded a note of caution over the the interim trade deal some Pacific countries are seeking with the European Union.

The Pacific countries have agreed to conclude an interim deal with the EU as a stepping stone to a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Previously the EU has been pushing for EPAs to be signed by the end of this year.

An interim deal would enter into force on January 1 and the two sides would seek a final EPA by the end of 2008.

The interim agreement would include timetables for cutting tariffs on goods and rules of origin.

Oxfam's Barry Coates, who has warned about the risks for Pacific countries being rushed into trade deals, says it's just a framework at present.

"Nothing is signed and there's a fair bit of negotiation yet to take place. And it's a concern that the European Union has consistently ignored the pacific proposals and reiterated its own proposals, and recently introduced a whole lot of new elements. So it's been very very difficult for the Pacific to negotiate."

Barry Coates of Oxfam