Attorney-General Pushes Forward Pacific Trade Agenda

The Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade, Mr. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, today underscored the concerns of the Pacific ACP countries with regards to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (C-EPA) negotiations, to the European Commission’s, Trade Commissioner, Mr. Karel de Gutch.

Minister Sayed-Khaiyum and Commissioner de Gutch met in the margins of Joint Ministerial Trade Committee (JMTC), held on Friday, 26 October 2012, in Brussels, which they co-chaired, on behalf of the ACP Group and the European Union, respectively.

“The Pacific ACP (PACP) region has been negotiating the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Commission (EC) for the past 9 years and a number of contentious issues are yet to be resolved” said the Minister.

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Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and trade Mr. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and European Commission’s Trade Commissioner Mr. Karel de Gutch in Brussels, Belgium

The Minister discussed with the Trade Commissioner the need for continuous and meaningful engagement by the EC with the Pacific ACP countries at technical and political levels, in order to finalise the negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

“As of now, all the 14 Pacific ACP countries have submitted Market Access Offers to the Commission in accordance with EU benchmarks, which is an indication of the commitment from the Pacific countries to conclude the Comprehensive EPA with the EU”, said Minister Sayed-Khaiyum.

“The Pacific is requesting for reciprocal commitment from the EC, not only at technical level but also with a demonstration political will to bring negotiations with the Pacific to conclusion for the mutual benefit of both parties”, said the Minister.

“The Pacific ACP region is the smallest configuration of the ACP Group, however, as a group it has many similarities and commonalities such as similar comparative advantages, market requirements and consumer demands, as well as, vulnerable economies and fragile ecosystems. Therefore, a successfully negotiated EPA with the Pacific is highly achievable and will demonstrate EU’s repeatedly stated commitment that EPAs are development focused”, stated the Minister.

The Minister pointed out to the Trade Commissioner that the Pacific ACP region is awaiting response from the Economic Union on the Market Access Offers and textual proposals submitted on the draft Economic Partnership Agreement.  Therefore, political intervention and further technical discussions at this point is crucial to get an amicable conclusion to the EPA.

Both Commissioner de Gutch and Minister Sayed-Khaiyum agreed that efforts need to be stepped by both sides to achieve a development focused and mutually beneficial Comprehensive EPA between the Pacific ACP and the EU.

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