26 Oct 2007

EU defends stance in negotiations with Pacific

1:06 pm on 26 October 2007

The European Union rejects claims it is unduly tough with Pacific nations as the deadline for Economic Partnership Agreements looms.

The EPAs were set to be signed off by the end of the year, although an interim proposal for trade in goods only is set to be signed off early next month.

The executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand, Barry Coates, says the new offer is very attractive for some Pacific countries and the EU has a divide and rule agenda.

He says civil society in the Pacific wants all African Caribbean and Pacific countries to stand together and not negotiate separate arrangements.

But the EU Director General of Development, Stefano Manservisi, rejects the suggestion that they trying to split the region.

"Our constant message has been, as we did, and do in the European Union, let's stay united as a region. As a region you have a possible way out in the future in the global competition. And let's have this agreement between two regions - the European Union and the Pacific region."

Stefano Manservisi