25 Jun 2013

Vanuatu trade official not confident about regional trade deal with EU

9:09 am on 25 June 2013

Vanuatu's Director of External Trade says he doesn't have any confidence that negotiations for a regional trade deal with the European Union will conclude this year.

The Pacific bloc of the African, Carribean and Pacific Group is meeting EU officials in Brussels this week to try and progress negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement.

Last month, Pacific trade officials said they'd push for a conclusion in the prolonged negotiations by the end of this year.

However Sumbue Antas says that deadline is far from guaranteed.

"It can go on and on forever - we just don't know. Timelines have been set and we would have to try and work around those. But for us in Vanuatu just like in other Pacific countries, we would love to have finished all this a long time ago... and it's just dragging on."

Sumbue Antas says there remain a number of red line issues for Vanuatu which must be addressed in the EPA deal including issues relating to tax and infant industry support.