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Summary: September 8, 2004: EU-ACP: launch of trade and development negotiations with the Pacific region (Brussels)
On 10 September the EU will open negotiations for an Economic and Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and 14 Pacific countries. Meeting in Nadi, Fiji, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and Development colleagues will officially launch these negotiations aimed at promoting trade and development by concluding a region- to-region agreement. Before leaving for Nadi Pascal Lamy said: “The launch of negotiations with the Pacific region marks another stepping stone in our common efforts to make regional integration and trade contribute to development. Now that we have started talks with all six ACP regions, we should switch gear and move into full negotiating mood. “ Commissioner Nielson added: “With the EU Pacific launch the EPA process is now thoroughly on track. This is evidence that the EU and ACP’s are succeeding in making trade and regional integration work for development.”
The EPA launching session, which will include a traditional Fijian welcome ceremony, will be followed by a first negotiating session during which both sides will discuss a “Joint Roadmap” outlining the broad calendar and the organisation for the negotiations. These are to be concluded at the latest by the end of 2007.
The Pacific ACP countries now opening negotiations with the EU have organised themselves regionally within the framework of the Pacific Forum. The countries are: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
Ahead of the EPA launch in Fiji Commissioner Lamy will go to New Zealand from 8 to 9 September 2004. This will be an occasion to explain the logic of the EPA, exchange information and discuss the way forward. The on-going WTO talks under the Doha Development Agenda and other bilateral matters will also be on the agenda of that visit.
Commissioner Nielson will be in Fiji from 8 to 11 September 2004 were a significant part of the visit will be devoted to bilateral discussions on EU development aid to Fiji. The Commissioner will hold talks with the Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, the leader of the Fiji Labour Party Mahendra Chaudhry, representatives of the private sector and the sugar industry and sign the Education Sector Programme with an EU grant of € 21 million from the European Development Fund in support of the Ministry of Education’s plan of achieving education for all.
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) are foreseen under the Cotonou Agreement with 77 States in Africa the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). They aim at helping these countries to foster development and regional integration as a stepping stone towards gradual integration into the world economy. For this, EPAs will establish clear trade rules, be WTO compatible and support trade through development cooperation. Negotiations were launched on 27th September 2002 in Brussels. The first phase of talks on the all-ACP – EU level led on 2nd October 2003 to a preliminary understanding on general issues such as market access, trade-related areas, services and the development dimension of EPAs. Since then negotiations have been opened at the regional level with 5 ACP regions: Central and West Africa, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Caribbean.
For more information on ACP-EU trade relations go to:
See also MEMO/04/210