6 Nov 2008

Pacific countries to look to extend EPA negotiations into 2009

4:20 pm on 6 November 2008

The Pacific Network on Globalisation, or PANG, says it expects trade deal negotiations between Pacific trade ministers and the European Commission to be extended into next year.

Negotiations over Economic Partnership Agreements, or EPAs, had been supposed to conclude by the end of next month but PANG says an agreement remains some way off because key issues have still not been resolved.

PANG's Maureen Penjueli says that the recent Nadi meeting of the Pacific bloc from the African Carribean and Pacific group gave a clear direction about where they are heading in the EPA negotiations.

She says it's left the European Union on the back foot.

"The EU wants to negotiate a comprehensive EPA which looks very different to what the Pacific is asking for. The EU is asking for a comprehensive EPA which includes negotiations and services, investment, government procurement, which the region has formally written to, to say that they are not ready at this point in time to be negotiating."

Meanwhile, a high level Pacific delegation, including Fiji's interim Prime Minister, is to travel to Brussels next week to convey their EPA concerns to the EU.