19 Jun 2006

NGOs want EU to consider non negotiable elements in Economic Partnership Agreements with Pacific

8:20 pm on 19 June 2006

There are calls for assets such as land to be left out of the Economic Partnership Agreements that the European Union aims to conclude with its aid recipient countries.

At a conference last week in Fiji Pacific NGOs raised concerns that the EPAs will severely disadvantage Pacific countries and they want to see greater consultation and impact reports completed before the agreements are signed off.

Barrie Coates, the executive director of Oxfam New Zealand says their concerns include the way the region will be forced to give tariff free access to European goods and pressure to open up land for foreign ownership.

"And already it is starting to happen with foreigners taking on long term lease - leases that are very hard to unwind at the end of the lease term, so that was one of the key issues for the conference - there are many other issues that affect cultures, the fisheries, the environmental resources of the Pacific."