4 Sep 2007

Pacific wants outstanding issues dealt with before signing EPAs with EU

2:36 pm on 4 September 2007

The Pacific will not sign any Economic Partnership Agreements, or EPAs, with the European Union unless some outstanding issues are resolved.

The lead negotiator for the Pacific, Hans Joachim Keil, says they are still holding discussions over the EPAs, which are due to be signed at the end of the year.

He says the Pacific wants rules of origin relaxed in terms of the production of goods but the EU is finding that difficult to accept.

There is also little progress over a proposal for a limited quota of people from the Pacific to be given access to work in the EU.

Mr Keil says he hasn't given up hope.

"They have been wanting us to sign and we say, well, we'll sign when we are ready and we are agreed to. There's nothing worse than signing something that we'll be sorry with later. We're going to sign something we agree to but not something we're going to be forced into and they've been made aware of that."

Mr Keil says a further meeting will be held in Brussels between Pacific ministers and the EU in early October.