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New demands

By GERALDINE PANAPASA
Tuesday, April 08, 2014

THE European Union has made new demands that threaten to dilute what was already agreed to in the interim economic partnership agreement (EPA) instead of addressing the existing contentious and unresolved issues.

And according to Ministry of Industry and Trade permanent secretary Shaheen Ali, this had led to the non-participation of Papua New Guinea in the comprehensive EPA negotiations and disunity in the group.

He made the comment at the opening of the Pacific African Caribbean Pacific trade and fisheries officials meeting in Suva yesterday.

Mr Ali said the discussions during the three-day meet would focus on charting a way forward towards successfully achieving a development-friendly EPA that would bring benefits to all people.

"Since June last year, there have been significant developments in the negotiations, not all of them helpful to achieving a successful outcome," he said.

"In light of these developments, Fiji has clearly stated from the very beginning that we need to re-group and re-strategise as a region.

"We need to be both stronger and smarter, to have a lot more unity of purpose, to successfully conclude an agreement that benefits us all."

From Fiji's stand-point, Mr Ali said, they wanted an EPA for the region that was development-oriented and that meant getting PNG to join the discussions.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community deputy director general Fekita 'Utoikamanu said a draft EPA strategy and roadmap for 2014 would need to be considered following the discussions.





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