PACIFIC ACP (PACP) countries have been urged to request from the European Union more flexible rules on the exporting of fresh and processed fish to Europe.
Speaking on behalf of the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi, the permanent secretary for Industry and Trade, Shaheen Ali, said more benefits would arise for PACP states if EU rules were flexible.
The meeting attended by trade officials from the PACP member countries involved discussions on the final draft of proposals for the EU in terms of forming a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
"A greater flexibility on the rules for exporting fresh and processed fish from the Pacific ACP region, known as the Global Sourcing provisions, should be a key request, made in unison without ambiguity and with a strong voice by the Pacific ACP side," said Mr Ali.
"The derogation from the normal rules of origin will enable many Pacific ACP members that have the supply but not the processing capacity to benefit from increased exports and job creation."
He said without this flexibility the EPA held very little value in terms of economic potential for the Pacific ACP countries, especially for Small Island States (SIS).
"Fish is one of the few export commodities from our region that has the potential to maintain and expand its presence in the EU market," he said.
He said a recent feasibility study conducted by the region of exports of fresh, frozen and chilled fish highlighted the export potential of these commodities.
"It has also underscored the broad economic and social benefits that would arise if the region was allowed the flexibility to cumulate and source fish from external sources," he said.