Pacific leaders express disappointment at EU’s inaction on trade deal


Leaders of the Pacific ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) region have urged the European Union (EU) and ACP States to work in a spirit of true partnership and focus on concluding the comprehensive EPAs, rather than the Commission “unilaterally putting undue pressure on African and Pacific ACP States to hastily conclude an agreement without satisfactorily resolving the outstanding and contentious issues.”<!--more-->

In a submission to the EU, ‘Isileli Pulu, Lead Spokesperson for the Pacific ACP EPA negotiations (who is also Minister of Labour, Commerce and Industries for Tonga), wrote that the EPA must go far beyond market access arrangements, and constitute a trade and development cooperation agreement that will form the basis for the elaboration of a true, strengthened and strategic partnership over time between the Pacific ACP region and EU.

“The special defining characteristics of most Pacific ACP States, such as their small size and dispersed nature, must be fully reflected not only in the negotiation process but particularly in the binding legal commitments assumed by the Pacific ACP States, including the pace at which they are to be implemented.

“Pacific ACP States have a long history of regional cooperation which constitutes a fundamental principle of their economic and trade relations with third States. This was reaffirmed by Pacific ACP Leaders at their meetings in 2011 where Leaders directed the Pacific ACP states to continue negotiating a comprehensive EPA as a single region,” the submission states.

“These unique challenges and characteristics defining the Pacific ACP region have significant economic, social and administrative implications that must be fully taken into account in the EPA negotiation process. The interim EPA as it currently stands does not satisfactorily address these fundamental considerations that I have just highlighted, and it is in this context that the Pacific ACP region’s proposals in the negotiations of a comprehensive and development friendly EPA must be viewed.

“It is very obvious that by its actions, the Commission’s non-response to PACP requests for negotiations since 2009 suggests that the EU does not want to conclude negotiations on a comprehensive and development friendly EPA with the PACP region,” the submission continues.

The submission asks the European Commission “to show good faith and negotiate a comprehensive EPA meaningfully, with flexibility, and in a spirit of compromise, while respecting both the objectives of partnership as set out in the Cotonou Agreement and the realities of the Pacific.