Group warns against Fiji's ratification of EPA
Fiji's Pacific Network on Globalisation says Fiji and other Pacific countries will sacrifice their own economic development by ratifying a free trade agreement with the European Commission.
The Pacific Network on Globalisation says Fiji and other Pacific countries will sacrifice their own economic development by ratifying a free trade agreement with the European Commission.
The group, which is known as PANG, says it is very concerned by Fiji's announcement it will ratify the interim Economic Partnership Agreement or EPA.
PANG's co-ordinator, Maureen Penjueli, told Amelia Langford that Fiji has no choice but to ratify the agreement or it will lose market access to Europe, which could affect key industries such as sugar.
MAUREEN PENJUELI:The issue of Fiji ratifying the interim EPA for us raises a number of key issues. We believe that the decision to ratify it was actually done under duress and we are quite concerned about the many of the so-called toxic and contentious issues that are still contained within the interim EPA that the Fiji Government has signed up to. The Fiji Government is fully aware of what the toxic and contentious issues are that are contained with the interim EPA but our view is that they ratified under duress - they had very little choice but there are some serious consequences that they now have to consider in terms of the ratification.
AMELIA LANGFORD: So you think the European Commission strong-armed Fiji here?
MP: We are certainly accusing the European Commission of strong-arming the Fiji Government and this is, if you look at the historical context, this has been the role of the European Commission... There has been heavy criticisms against the European Commission throughout from Africa and the Pacific region and the Caribbean region, specifically, about how these free trade agreement negotiations between the ACPs [African Caribbean Pacific] and Europe has really not placed development at the forefront and so I think this is just another, if you like, another example of how difficult it is for governments at the moment in terms of making choices about their long-term development and being forced to sign
AL: So what are the consequences do you think of Fiji ratifying this agreement?
MP: There are a couple of issues and I think the first really has to do with what we are calling the contentious issues within the interim EPA. This is really about using policy tools for countries like Fiji, developing countries, to develop their economies into the future- these are the very tools that countries in Europe and Australia and New Zealand have used to develop their own economies. So that is the very difficult choice that governments have right now - that they are sacrificing a future development policy in return to maintain market access to Europe.
Maureen Penjueli says the European Commission uses economic partnership agreements to secure market access for raw materials for its own development.
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