FSM participates in a Workshop on Market Access Offers for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and the Pacific States member of the African Caribbean Pacific Group (PACPS)
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): November 29, 2010 - Trade and Customs Officials from the fourteen PACPS gathered together with their colleagues from the European Commission to continue discussions on the EPA in the context of a workshop on Market Access Offers on November 24-26, 2010 in Nadi, Fiji. The three day workshop provided an opportunity for both sides to assess the progress made in revising the Market Access offers tabled by PACPS at the last meeting of the Joint Technical Working Group (JTWG) in September/October 2009 in Brussels.
Although the workshop was not a formal negotiation session, it is anticipated that it will have enhanced both sides understanding of the context, motivations and rationale of the offers tabled by the PACPS.
It should be recalled that in the context of the EPA, the EU has committed to grant among other things duty free and quota free market access to all products as well as relaxed fisheries rules of origin on fish and related products originating from the PACPS. In exchange, the EU demands that the PACPS liberalize a substantial volume of their trade, and undertake to commit to key principles and rules of international trade, including sanitary and phytosanitary requirements.
The discussions on the Market Access Offers have been stalled since 2009 due to a number of contentious issues, including the definition of what amounts to Substantially All Trade liberalization, whose data to be used (EU or PACPS), the reference period and the entry into force of the Agreement once it is finalized (provisional application or application upon ratification). From the PACPS perspective, the Market Access Offers are inextricably linked to key issues, such as relaxed fisheries rules of origin for fresh and frozen fish fillet, which constitute the main exportable commodities for most PACPS, including the FSM. The issue of adjustment cost resulting from the EPA is also crucial for the PACPS, especially for those who will be facing significant loss of revenue, to ensure that they will be able to implement and lessen the impact of the EPA once it is negotiated and signed.
The bilateral discussions between the representative of the European Commission and individual PACPS, has allowed to provide each side a better understanding of the positions, potential moves and flexibilities that the they are ready to consider; which will then help to determine the date for the next round of formal negotiations.
Attending the workshop from the FSM were Mr. Ernest Weirlangt, Assistant Secretary for Trade and Investment, Ms. Lorina Rae Seady, Customs Analyst, and Mr. Jean Bertrand Azapmo, Trade policy Analyst under the Commonwealth Hub & Spokes Project.
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