THE rules of origin for fisheries export is one of the key areas being discussed under the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
"Fiji and the Pacific ACP States are seeking favorable rules of origin for fisheries products, especially, for fresh, frozen and chilled fish. This is commonly referred to as global sourcing provisions," Ministry of Industries and Trade permanent secretary Shaheen Ali said.
While the Pacific ACP States may have fisheries resources, he said many of them, particularly the smaller island states, lacked the infrastructure and the capacity to process and canned fish.
He added many PACP States also lacked their own fishing fleet, which was a key requirement in order for their fish to qualify for duty free entry into the EU market.
"Global sourcing will enable Pacific ACP states to source fish caught in PACP waters and export it to the EU, regardless of who catches it, as long as it is landed in the region for processing," Mr Ali said.
Prior to 2007, he said Fiji was supplying about 18 per cent of England's and 12 per cent of France's total imports of fresh, frozen and chilled fish.
He said this showed that potential existed for Fijian and PACP fisheries exporters to exploit the EU market and a favourable rule of origin was crucial to enable this.
"We are heartened by the substantial progress in our discussions with the EU. The EU has shown willingness to address key issues in the CEPA, such as market access offers, rules of origin and development co-operation, apart from fisheries."
"This positive commitment is very much evident with the EU negotiators coming to Fiji and the region in March for crucial negotiations with the PACP States to progress the CEPA towards finalisation," he said.
He said they were looking forward to having constructive discussions with the EU in March and hoped to find amicable solutions to the outstanding issues in the CEPA.