Senior Trade and Fisheries Officials from the Pacific ACP states are meeting in Suva, Fiji for a 3 day meeting to review the recent developments in the Pacific ACP- European Union (EU) comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations and other trade related matters, and prepare recommendations for Ministers’ consideration at their meeting on 10-11 April.
At a meeting in December last year, PACP Trade and Fisheries Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner reaffirmed their commitment to conclude negotiations within the next twelve months and agreed, provided conditions allowed, to hold a final meeting at Ministerial level in May 2014. In her opening remarks, the Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Ms Andie Fong Toy advised officials that the EPA negotiations were at a critical juncture. “We have some difficult decisions ahead of us, for which we need robust discussions at this meeting so that appropriate recommendations can be made for Ministers’ consideration. As representatives of your country, you will need to assess the benefits and the risks each issue presents to you and how a collective decision can benefit the Pacific ACP region as a whole.” Ms Fong Toy said.
Highlighting the importance of the fisheries aspects of the EPA, Ms Fong Toy added that “Fisheries are a common resource to all the Pacific ACP states and we should ensure that the EPA provisions allow for its sustainable development and that the benefits of fisheries trade accrue to the people of the Pacific.”
The PACP Trade and Fisheries Ministers at their meeting in Suva, on 10 -11 April are expected to agree on the approach to be taken by the PACP region to conclude the comprehensive EPA negotiations.
The Officials’ Meeting is chaired by the Permanent Secretary for the Fijian Ministry of Industry and Trade, Mr Shaheen Ali.
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