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EPA trade worry

Geraldine Panapasa
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THE economic partnership agreement (EPA) has been burdened with non-trade concerns which have caused further delays in its finalisation, says Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Poorly-conceived political provisions that disadvantaged the Pacific ACP had been imposed on the region, he said at the Pacific-African Caribbean Pacific trade and fisheries ministers' meeting in Suva last week.

"These provisions in the EPA are skewed in favour of the European Union, who are the judge, jury and executioners in determining whether there is a violation of the political provisions and have the freedom to invoke illegal trade sanctions in response," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"There is no independent adjudication and the opinion of the Pacific ACP as contracting parties of the EPA does not matter in these provisions."

He said those were some of the critical issues they would need to tackle with resolve to achieve their vision of securing the best result for the region.

While there were time pressures to consider, he said they needed to ensure they came out winners for the sake of all peoples.

"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.

"In order to have one EPA, we need to address Papua New Guinea's participation in the negotiations."

He said it was encouraging to note that PNG had agreed to come to the table as an observer.

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