21 Feb 2013

Labour mobility important part of EPAs - academic

6:47 am on 21 February 2013

Pacific Island nations are being encouraged to push for labour provisions as part of the Economic Parternership Agreement that's being negotiated with the European Union.

Pacific nations that are part of the African Caribbean Pacific group have been in talks with the EU to reach an EPA agreement since 2002, with talks said to now be at a critical stage.

The University of Auckland's Dr Steven Ratuva says he'd like to see an agreement that is similar to the seasonal workers scheme with Australia and New Zealand.

"Not only liberalise the movement of goods, also the movement of labour. So the same thing for Pacific workers who should be able to have visas to go and work in Europe as part of the EPA agreement. I think it's very important for our workforce to be able to do that. Not only in terms of provision of cheap labour like in NZ they can pick apples and all sorts of things for unskilled labour, but for more if you like, high value, technical labour."

Dr Steven Ratuva says the Pacific has a good skilled labour force which can benefit a lot from working in Europe.