PIFS Continues Economic Partnership Negotiations with EU on Fish Stocks

8 August 2011: The Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS) has announced that Pacific fisheries and trade Ministers are meeting this week in an effort to advance consideration of fisheries-related issues arising from the Pacific African, Caribbean and Pacific (PACP) – European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

According to PIFS, the issue of fish stocks is instrumental to the region's negotiations for an EPA with the EU. Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General of PIFS, stressed that the meeting must identify market access opportunities that “provide employment and livelihood opportunities for Pacific communities.” Negotiations are expected to conclude by the end of 2011, but Slade said this timeframe was ambitious and that fisheries “must be dealt with” if negotiations are to move forward.

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Peter O'Neill, highlighted the benefits of the interim EPA signed by PNG, but stated that key issues of contention remained, including the interpretation of substantially all trade, the most favoured nation (MFN) clause, treatment of export taxes, standstill clause, rules of origin and bilateral safeguards.

The EU has been negotiating EPAs with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States since September 2002. So far, only negotiations with the Caribbean region have reached a comprehensive agreement. [PIFS Press Release]