The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) says it’s not too late for Pacific ACP states to reconsider their stand on the Economic Partnership Agreement the EU wants them to sign.
The warning comes as Caribbean ACP state signed an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union (EU).
The agreement will, among other things, allow up-front access to EU markets for Caribbean exports.
PANG said “Pacific leaders can still avoid signing a disastrous deal like the EPA signed by the Caribbeans”.
The EU says partnership will assist Caribbean exporters meet EU and international standards.
Other key benefits of the EU-Caribbean EPA include:
• Gradual opening up of Caribbean markets with extensive safeguards to protect local jobs and sensitive sectors;
• Freeing up trade in the services sector to promote growth and investment;
• Promotion of cooperation in innovation programmes;
• Protection of labour and environment standards in the Caribbean;
According to the EU, the EPA will mean much closer cooperation and dialogue between the two regions on all these issues and is backed with substantial EU development aid.
The EPA, which aims to strengthen ties between the two regions and promote regional integration in the Caribbean, is the first comprehensive North-South trade and development agreement in the global economy.
It includes a package of measures to stimulate trade, investment and innovation, and to promote sustainable development, build a regional market among Caribbean countries and help eliminate poverty.
PANG coordinator Maureen Penjueli said it was important Pacific ministers took a sobering lesson from the Caribbean experience.
"It contains virtually nothing for the Caribbean, but instead opens the Caribbean to European exports, businesses and service providers, and contains new rules on trade that have been rejected by developing countries at the WTO.”
This deal is not a recipe for economic partnership, but a menu to serve European economic interests, she said.
The EU is negotiating with 76 nations across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (the ACP) all at once.
The Pacific Trade ministers meeting in Nadi continues.