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Pacific Leaders Suspicious Over EPA Negotiations With EU Cook Islands, August 31, 12

Pacific leaders are frustrated and suspicious of European Union (EU) negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the region.

EPAs were due to come into force in 2008, but from the region, only Fiji and Papua New Guinea have signed interim agreements, and there has been no formal negotiation since 2009.

Niue’s Premier Toke Talagi said there is a tendency to quote legal frameworks, but there should be flexibility.

“There is a degree of frustration on our part at the fact that this agreement has not been signed. There is also a suspicion on our side that maybe they are trying too hard to get all that they want, and there is no degree of compromise in the arrangements we need to put in place. We believe that there should be some degree, in fact a large degree of goodwill.”

Recently in Europe Spanish tuna industrialists raised the point that in their mind EPA negotiations should be tied to granting tuna fishing rights to the EU purse seine fleet within the partners countries EEZ’s.

Tonga’s Prime Minister, Lord Tuivakano said leaders have noted there’s a risk that an EPA may not be concluded by the end of this year.

“Progressing and finalising the EPA will require commitment and flexibility from both the EU and the ACP members. Leaders also urge the EU to take into account the special circumstances of the Pacific ACP countries and show some flexibility in EPA negotiations.”

Leaders have agreed that if an EPA has not been signed by October, a special meeting of the Pacific leaders of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group will be held.