4 Aug 2007

Oxfam welcomes Pacific trade ministers for not bowing to EU pressure

9:39 am on 4 August 2007

The NGO Oxfam has commended Pacific Trade Ministers for not buckling to European Union pressure over negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreements or EPAs.

A letter from the EU to the Pacific Islands Forum trade ministers meeting in Vanuatu this week said 130 million US dollars of proposed aid was dependent on EPAs being agreed on by the end of the year.

Pacific members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group responded by saying they'd suspend negotiations with the EU if it cuts funding.

The EU subsequently denied that it threatened to cut funding.

But Oxfam New Zealand's Barry Coates says Pacific ministers won't be bullied into accepting a deal which is unacceptable to their people.

"The European Union has shown little willingness to accept what the Pacific is calling for in negotiations. The Pacific put forward some proposals on how to make this a developmentally friendly agreement and these have been rejected by the EU. So it's hard to see how they can come up with a deal by the end of the year which really does benefit the Pacific."