21 May 2015

EU says ball in Pacific's court for EPA

7:47 am on 21 May 2015

The European Union's Ambassador to the Pacific says it's up to Pacific countries to decide how to go forward with an Economic Partnership Agreement.

Andrew Jacobs says negotiations, which began nearly 11 years ago, have reached a stalemate and are still a long way from being concluded.

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Photo: RNZ

The secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, says the EU's Trade Commissioner has proposed a three year deferral, which she says is unacceptable.

But Mr Jacobs says discussions have been going around in circles for months, and a break would give the Pacific a chance to discuss and decide how to go forward.

"We're very happy to sit around tables and to talk when there is something that we can focus on. But I know that the trade commissioner didn't feel that at the moment that given the lack of progress recently on the agreement, that it would be a very profitable use of peoples time and our resources."

Andrew Jacobs says the EU has written to Tonga's trade minister, who is currently chairing the Pacific side of the negotiations, and is waiting for a response.

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