8 Sep 2004

Concerns in Fiji over partnership with EU

8:13 pm on 8 September 2004

Civil society groups in Fiji say they have serious concerns about the social, political and economic implications of an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.

Negotiations on the agreement, between the EU and Pacific states which belong to the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific, or ACP, network, begin in Suva on Friday.

In a statement, the civil society organisations say the interests of Pacific peoples and their development must take precedence over the economic interests that drive trade liberalisation.

Stanley Simpson of the Pacific Network on Globalisation says they reject the claim that free trade will alleviate poverty, and he says key social services, such as education and health, cannot be part of any such agreement.

"A lot of these things must not be governed by trade rules, must not be included or be negotiated at all, because they are basic human rights issues, they impact on daily lives, and another concern for us is that no social impact report has been done on these sectors."