8 Sep 2011

Niue's Talagi says stalls over trade deal with EU makes Pacific countries poor

6:51 am on 8 September 2011

Niue's premier, Toke Talagi, says stalling over trade deals with the European Union is making Pacific countries poor.

Only Fiji and Papua New Guinea have concluded interim Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU.

Mr Talagi says leaders are concerned at how long it has taken to conclude an agreement with the EU.

"It's disappointing to find that they're using their clout as a large donor country to try to influence the things that we can do with regard to fishing access and so on. So I am disappointed with that, because you'd think that these people would be much bigger than that and should be able to help the Pacific Island countries. They're making us poor."

Toke Talagi says at some point if deals, including the regional trade deals PACER and PICTA, are taking to long, maybe it is time to review them and give up.

But the European Commission President says it is not his organisation that is holding up trade deals in the Pacific.

Jose Manuel Barroso say the EU believes it is in the Pacific countries interest to sign a new deal.

Frankly speaking, I don't think the issue of speed should be put on our side. But it's true that some of those EPAs have been difficult to finalise, that's why we have offered the interim agreements. We believe it is important to make progress, for the whole region, for trade as well.

The European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso.