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Pacific Leaders agree Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU must be development oriented

Pacific ACP Leaders have strongly reiterated the call for any Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union to be “development oriented” as the Region enters a critical stage in the negotiation of the Agreement.

Pacific ACP (PACP) Leaders from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu met at the Westin Hotel, Denarau, Nadi, Fiji today. The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare chaired the meeting.

“The EPA must be development oriented and reflect the unique characteristics of the region including our economic vulnerabilities,” the PACP Leaders said.

They said: “On the EPA negotiations we note progress that had been made and re-affirmed our support for the position taken by the Regional Negotiating Team particularly that the EPA must be development oriented and that it must be focused on fundamental regional objectives including differential treatment as provided under the WTO.”

The Pacific ACP Leaders agreed to support the call for substantial additional and binding resources required to fund the adjustment and development costs of implementing the EPA.

The Pacific ACP Leaders also considered the status of the implementation of the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme (PRIP) and progress on the regional programming of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) covering the period 2008 – 2012.

The Leaders noted with appreciation that the Pacific was the only region of the ACP Group to have received additional resources of €10 million under the 9th EDF, a result of good performance being recognized in the mid-term review.

They also noted the progress in the programming of the 10th EDF PRIP and the proposal to focus on the two sectors of Human Resources Development and Natural Resources. Leaders requested that the consultation process continues with their respective National Authorising Officers and with key stakeholders to ensure good synergy with national programmes.

On the Small Economies Work Programme (SEWP), Leaders expressed concern “that the Doha Round of WTO has been suspended and called for the support of Forum dialogue partners for the SEWP proposals.”

The Pacific ACP Leaders also considered and supported a proposal supporting Forum Island Countries (FICs) preparations for negotiations with Australia and New Zealand for a more comprehensive framework for trade and economic cooperation under a framework for Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER-Plus).

The Leaders noted that the 5th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the ACP scheduled for December 2006 is scheduled to take place in Sudan.

The next Pacific ACP Leaders’ meeting will be held at the margins of the next Forum Leaders Meeting.