10 Sep 2004

EU trade chief in Pacific trade talks

7:26 am on 10 September 2004

The European Union trade commissioner Pascal Lamy is to launch talks on a free trade deal with 14 Pacific Island states.

Officials in Brussels says the negotiations will be formally opened in Nadi in Fiji later today.

The talks will be part of Europe's plan to seek stronger trade ties with the 78 nations which belong to the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries.

The 78 states have collectively negotiated the so-called Cotonou pact with the EU and are now working towards six different region-to-region trade agreements with Europe.

EU officials say the talks with Pacific will be concluded at the latest by the end of 2007.

The Pacific countries opening negotiations with the EU are the members of the Pacific Forum, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand.