NEGOTIATIONS are underway between Fiji, the 13 Pacific ACP States (PACPS) and the European Commission (EU) for the extension of global sourcing provisions to apply to fresh and frozen fisheries products in the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
Permanent secretary for Industry and Trade Shaheen Ali said in a statement that government and PACPS had been negotiating a CEPA to provide a market for Fijian-made products and produce.
"Apart from fish, we need to ensure that all our current as well as future potential exports to the EU benefit from favourable and flexible rules," he said.
"Fiji is already a signatory of the interim economic partnership agreement (IEPA) which Fijian products are getting duty free-quota free entry into the European market, provided the product meets and satisfies the EU rules of original requirements.
"The ongoing negotiation on the CEPA is also an opportunity for Fiji to ensure that the final rules of origin provide sufficient flexibility to address the challenges faced by small island developing states like Fiji, in developing its manufacturing and agriculture-based sectors for export to the EU.
"Rules of origin criteria and other non-tariff barriers are key impediments to duty-free access under the economic partnership agreement."
Mr Ali said Fiji had already secured favourable rules of origin for canned fish and cooked loins through the global sourcing provisions in the IEPA by providing industry-specific details on the problems the fishing industry faced in complying with the EU rules of origin.
"During the technical negotiations in December last year, Fiji and the Pacific ACP countries achieved significant breakthrough in the negotiations with the EU," he said.
"The EU agreed to consider improvements in the rules of origin, in particular the specific rules that set the minimum local area content.
"The Fijian government is also pursuing a CEPA with its fellow PACP States to ensure Fiji and the region negotiate the best possible agreement that will enhance our exports and support our development aspirations."
Meanwhile, Mr Ali said the ministry would undertake one-on-one meetings with present and future exporters to the EU.
He said information and evidence collected from the meetings would enable the ministry to compile a final list of products which Fiji wants favourable rules of origin.
The National Workshop on Cumulation in preparation for the Fisheries Technical Working Group Meeting with the EU would be held from March 4-7 in Nadi.