ATTORNEY-GENERAL and Trade Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has called on fellow trade ministers from the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of States to develop a unified message on trade before they meet the European Commission later this week.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, who is attending the ACP group of States meeting in Brussels, urged the 260 delegates representing 64 countries, to act quickly to end the uncertainty on a number of critical issues.
He reminded the delegates that in order to achieve the best outcome for the people of the ACP nations, the ministers needed to urgently address remaining issues relating to the;
* Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU;
* the European Commission's Communication on Trade, Growth and Development;
* the European Commission's negotiations with third parties; and
* commodity-related issues.
"This is an important opportunity for ACP trade ministers and we must be well-prepared to have constructive dialogue on key issues on trade and development with the Europeans," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
He stressed the importance of finalising a unified position on the Economic Partnership Agreement before going into the ACP-EU Joint Ministerial Trade Committee meeting today.
"I encourage all of us to put forward innovative but pragmatic solutions to resolve the outstanding issues and conclude negotiations on a comprehensive EPA for the benefit of all."
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum is chairing the two-day deliberations of the 16th ACP Group Ministerial Trade Committee Meeting and co-chairing the ACP-EU Joint Ministerial Trade Committee meeting.
He welcomed Fiji being given the opportunity to lead the discussions.
"Fiji's chairing of the meeting demonstrates the confidence that the ACP has in a small island developing State and indeed is a testimony of the equality that exists between the ACP member countries and indeed between the different regions of the ACP family."