19 Apr 2007

Plea for Europe to change approach to aid/trade deals with developing nations

7:46 pm on 19 April 2007

NGOs around the world have mounted protests over the pressure the European Union is applying to its aid recipient nations to sign off Economic Partnership Agreements.

The EU is a donor to 12 Pacific Island countries under the banner of the African Caribbean and Pacific group of nations.

The EPAs are part of the push towards greater trade liberalisation as required by the World Trade Organisation but the NGOs say the agreements should not go ahead in their current form.

The executive director of OXFAM New Zealand, Barry Coates, says it is essential that the EU starts listening to Pacific voices and allows for trade agreements that help the region to make the most of it resources and skills.

"A trade agreement like this should be developmentally friendl, that it should support development in the Pacific rather than undermine it, particuarly as it is no longer just about access for the Pacific into the European markets, the tough decisions of this negotiation are primarily about the liberalisation the Pacific has to undertake."