22 Feb 2013

Optimism over Pacific trade talks with EU

5:29 am on 22 February 2013


There is cautious optimism that negotiations between Pacific nations and the European Union for an economic partnership agreement could be concluded by the end of this year.

Pacific nations that are part of the African Caribbean Pacific group have been in talks with the EU to reach an EPA since 2002.

Last year, Pacific leaders expressed frustration with the negotiations and the EU's lack of flexibility.

The Cook Islands secretary of foreign affairs and immigration, Dr Jim Gosselin, says after a couple of fruitful meetings with the EU, it appears they are beginning to resolve the outstanding issues.

He says these include export taxes and rules of origin for fisheries products from the region into the EU.

"We've got them on the table and we've got the process going now and we've been having the technical meetings and as I say we're cautiously optimistic that we can have a positive result we can all be happy with, or at least satisfied with, by the end of the year.

Dr Jim Gosselin says one of the priorities in the region is to have free access to the EU market for fresh, chilled and frozen fish.