PACIFIC-African Caribean Pacific states need a well-negotiated economic partnership agreement (EPA) that sets precedent for all other trade agreements that are being negotiated, says Ministry of Industry and Trade permanent secretary Shaheen Ali.
Speaking at the opening of the PACP trade and fisheries meeting in Suva on Monday, Mr Ali said PACP officials needed to put aside their differences and work towards the future of their nations and the collective future of the region.
"The EPA is the first such agreement between the Pacific region and a developed trading bloc. We need an agreement that is development-friendly, provides opportunities for the region to integrate into global trade and does not limit our policy space and impinge on our sovereignty."
He said discussions during the three-day meet would highlight a number of issues such as the regional negotiations mechanism — the format of the negotiations.
"We need to come together and develop relevant strategies to address Papua New Guinea's concerns and also bring the EPA negotiations to a conclusion," said Mr Ali, who assumed the chairmanship role during the meeting.