FIJI was committed to the Pacific African Caribbean Pacific States' (PACP) effort to conclude a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as a single region.
This was revealed by the Attorney-General and Minister for Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum while closing the four-day PACP European Union Technical Working Group meeting on fisheries at the Novotel Hotel in Nadi yesterday.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the government was also committed to establishing a formal trade and economic partnership with the EU through the EPA.
"This will be our first partnership with a trading bloc of developed nations and by the virtue of being the first it needs to be done right," he said.
"The EPA needs to be a vehicle for sustainable development for the Pacific, by enabling the region to utilise its resources to attract onshore investment, encourage value addition, and exports.
"Concluding a development-friendly EPA will also set a precedent for a favourable PACER Plus agreement with Australia and New Zealand and subsequent agreements that could be negotiated by the Pacific States.
"Therefore a successful EPA is critical to the region, in terms of our relations with the EU, plus its precedent value."
He said the global sourcing for fresh, frozen and processed fish was a key component of a development-friendly and balanced EPA for the Pacific.
"Global sourcing will allow the region to gain more benefits from its single largest shared resource.
"Many PACP countries face challenges in developing their own fishing fleets and setting up processing factories. Through global sourcing, the region will be able to pool resources and enter into joint ventures to attract onshore investment and develop its infrastructure.
"This will allow all the countries of our region to share the benefits of our fisheries more equally. The region in turn will have access to more jobs — especially for women and better living standards.
"In this sense, we share the European Community's concern that our fisheries resources need to be conserved and sustainably managed."