27 Apr 2007

Pacific civil society says EPA trade negotiations with Europe should be suspended

1:35 pm on 27 April 2007

Pacific Civil Society groups have challenged the European Union to negotiate a trade deal that is to the benefit of Pacific people.

The challenge was issued by groups participating in this week's Pacific trade and education programme conference in Apia.

The chief executive of the Samoa umbrella for NGOs, Roina Vavatau, says the EU has so far failed to live up to its rhetoric that the Economic Partnership Agreements should be instruments for development.

She says the EU has not responded constructively to repeated Pacific proposals, but still insists on a deadline for conclusion of negotiations by the end of this year.

Participants at the Apia meeting have agreed with the mid-term review of the EPA negotiations commissioned by the Pacific Trade Ministers.

The review concluded that the Pacific and EU were still far apart in negotiations and that the Pacific was not ready to conclude a deal by the end of the year.

The participants called for the suspension of further negotiations until the results of the recently initiated social impact assessments are fully incorporated into negotiating positions.