Brussels, 18 July 2014
The EU and Fiji implement the Pacific interim Economic Partnership Agreement
The Government of Fiji notified the European Union yesterday of its decision to apply the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union. The interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and Fiji is therefore ready for implementation.
The EPA provides for free access into the EU for all products from the countries concerned. In the Pacific region, Papua New Guinea has already ratified this agreement and implementation is on-going.
An EU spokesperson for trade said: "Fiji's decision to apply the interim Economic Partnership Agreement is a very significant step in our relationship. This agreement is a true partnership for trade and development. The EPA is one of our main tools to assist developing countries, such as Fiji, on their path to economic growth and diversification of their economies."
The interim Economic Partnership Agreement provides for duty-free quota-free market access into the EU for all exports originating from Fiji and Papua New Guinea. For its part, Fiji will gradually open its market to European exports over a transitional period until 2023, with the exception of some agricultural and industrial sensitive products. In addition, the Agreement contains provisions on trade defence instruments, dispute settlement and sustainable development principles. This agreement is a negotiated and lasting framework for trade relations between the EU, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. This agreement is also open to other Pacific ACP States that wish to join.
The interim Economic Partnership Agreement provides for a joint Trade Committee to monitor the implementation of the Agreement. The fourth meeting of the Committee between the EU and Papua New Guinea will be the occasion to fully associate Fiji with the implementation.
The interim EPA between the EU and Pacific ACP States was signed by Papua New Guinea in July 2009 and by Fiji in December 2009. The European Parliament approved the Agreement in January 2011 and Papua New Guinea ratified it in May 2011. Fiji will now start to implement the agreement as from the end of July 2014.
With the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States and the EU opted for more ambitious trade and development relations. These new relationships are developed through a negotiated partnership governed by predictable and stable rules, and are accompanied by development co-operation. Cooperation aims to strengthen the institutional and productive capacities of ACP States and to support the necessary adjustment process. The EPAs seek to contribute to ACP regional integration and the creation of more effective regional markets.
Negotiations of these trade and development agreements under the Cotonou Agreement were launched in 2002. The EU-Pacific regional negotiations began in October 2004. However, it became clear in late 2007 that it was impossible to finalise the negotiations in all ACP regions before the end of the Cotonou trade regime, i.e. 31 December 2007.
As a result, the interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Pacific ACP States, as provisionally applied by Fiji and ratified by Papua New Guinea, should be considered as a stepping stone towards a coherent and comprehensive partnership between the EU and the Pacific region. The goal is to reach an agreement which supports sustainable development and promotes regional economic integration. Other countries in the region potentially affected by the EPA process are the Cook Islands, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. The current scope of the EPA, which relates to trade in goods, could be deepened to cover trade in services, rules on investment and trade-related areas such as sustainable development, competition and trade facilitation.
In the Pacific, Fiji is the second-largest trading partner of the EU. The main EU exports are electrical machinery and equipment. Fiji's main exports to the EU are raw cane sugar, other agricultural products and fish.
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