Fiji Calls For Solidarity On Comprehensive EPA

Fiji has called on the Pacific to remain united at the negotiating table at talks on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) between the region and the European Union.

Acting Prime Minister and acting Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Attorney General Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said it is important for the region to stand its ground for “an arrangement that is fair and equitable”.

Addressing Deputy Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers from the region during the Pacific ACP Trade and Fisheries Ministers Meeting in Suva today, he said CEPA should not come at the expense of Pacific nations’ right to self-determination and sovereignty and regional integration.

He added “we have come very far as a united group and it is and has always been Fiji’s desire to maintain the regional unity and solidarity”.

“Many Pacific ACP countries have indicated that the partnership agreement is a very important tool for strengthening and growing Pacific and EU relations.

The EU had earlier indicated that it will defer negotiations on CEPA for three years due to issues dealing with the fisheries sector which many Pacific island countries are dependent on.

Minister Sayed-Khaiyum told the ministers that they will now have to determine the next steps to provide best options to ensure sustainable developments goals are met.

Minister Sayed-Khaiyum said, “The Interim EPA in its current form cannot be considered a viable alternative to the Comprehensive EPA, as it still contains contentious issues and does not include our key demands, such as, an extension of global sourcing for fresh, frozen and chilled fish and development cooperation.”

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