21 Apr 2008

EU trade minister accusing of domineering approach to negotiations with Pacific Ministers

6:28 am on 21 April 2008

European Union Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, has been accused of having a domineering approach to trade negotiations by Pacific Island Trade Ministers.

A leaked exchange of letters between the Foreign Minister of the Cook Islands, Wilkie Rasmussen, and Mr Mandelson, reveals an increasingly tense relationship.

Mr Mandelson had asked Mr Rasmussen to correct unnecessarily offensive remarks he had attributed to him.

But Mr Rasmussen told Mr Mandelson a resolution had been passed by Pacific Foreign Ministers meeting in Fiji, where the EU Trade Commissioner's harsh and unneccessarily domineering approach was noted.

Mr Rasmussen now says Mr Mandelson had rail-roaded Pacific Trade Ministers in a meeting in Brussels and worked against their attempts to negotiate as a block for a comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement or EPA.

"In my eyes, and the eyes of other people there, he threw tantrums basically to get us into positions where we agreed then to negotiate with him, which we did. But we were absolutely railroaded by him in those negotiations that drove a wedge between the Pacific Islands sense of working together."