THE Pacific Network on Globalistion (PANG) has supported the Pacific ministers and negotiators for sticking to their mandate on Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Co-ordinator Roshni Sami said "people’s lives and livelihood are at stake here and PANG strongly supports Pacific ministers and negotiators for questioning such dirty politics by the European Union".
Ms Sami’s comments came after the Pacific African Carribean Pacific (ACP) trade ministers meeting in Vanuatu expressed "grave concern and deep disappointment" that the EU was tying the negotiation of the EPA to development funding from the 10th European Development Fund.
"Pacific people must continue to demand an EPA that actually benefits the development of Pacific Island countries," she said.
"We must keep in mind there are alternatives and we should not compromise the integrity of the Pacific negotiating position nor future economic opportunities for the Pacific just to sign an EPA within the negotiating framework set by the EU."
EDF funding is what Pacific governments use to build schools, hospitals and other vital public infrastructures, Ms Sami said.
She argued it was essential that Pacific Island nations receive separate assistance to cope with the effects of opening up the market as well as take advantage of opportunities that liberalisation might bring.
"This is why the Pacific proposal has always included an adjustment fund as a development component.
"It is imperative that Pacific negotiators continue to protect these kinds of pro-development initiatives in the Pacific ACP EPA proposal.
"We are seeing the explicit linking of aid with trade in an agreement between a weak and a very strong negotiating power. This power imbalance makes us vulnerable to bullying from the EU. PANG urges Pacific governments to stand strong and push for Pacific interests," said Ms Sami.
She said it was important for Pacific negotiators to hold their ground in the EPA negotiations to set a benchmark for negotiations with New Zealand and Australia.