Pacific Islands close to agreement on trade deal with European Union

Tonga and four other pacific countries are about to agree on an interim trade deal with the European Union (EU).

The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) says that in a joint declaration after a ministerial-level meeting in Brussels, the EU and the Pacific countries said they have agreed to move on to some agreement.
“In view of the short time available until the deadline of 31 December 2007, it was necessary to conclude a World Trade Organisation (WTO)-compatible interim agreement as a stepping stone to a comprehensive EPA,” said PANG.
The Pacific countries involved in the talks include, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Tonga was represented by the Hon. Minister for Labour, Commerce and Industries Lisiate ‘Akolo and Secretary for the Ministry Paulo Kautoke.
Interim agreement would include timetables for cutting tariffs on goods, rules of origin, and safeguard mechanisms for slowing sudden surges of imports plus possibly fisheries, competition and development issues.
The interim deal would enter into force on 01January and the two sides would seek a final EPA by the end of 2008.
PANG’s Director Roshni Sami said the Pacific had previously outlined their minimum negotiating position that no one facet of the deal is agreed on until the whole deal was agreed on.

“What we can see by this interim agreement is that actually that red line has been broken because they will be concluding negotiations on some sectors by December 31st 2007, according to this joint statement, and then the rest of the sectors will be negotiated and concluded by 2008. So you can see the Pacific’s arm has been twisted and the way they’ve done that is by including sugar in the EPAs.”

Tonga's delegation to the meeting returned yesterday.

No comments: