A trade deal between the world’s biggest economic region the European Union – and the world’s smallest – the Pacific – was never going to be easy. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations were spread over five years, but by the deadline on 31 December 2007, the Pacific and the EU had failed to come to any agreement. But it may not be just a case of bullying by the big guys. The Pacific countries could have prepared better, ensured that their interests were properly represented, and collaborated more appropriately.
Key message bought forward in PiPP’s first discussion paper include:
- EPA negotiations were spread over five years and failed to produce agreement.
- The Pacific countries could have been better prepared to ensure their interests were properly represented.
- By encouraging the Pacific islands to lower trade barriers, the Europeans really thought that they were doing good.
- Given the current trend towards encouraging ‘good governance’, it is ironic that proponents are simultaneously pushing for measures which would reduce the ability of governments to fund their operations effectively.
- The Pacific islands must be allowed to promote a select few areas in which they have an actual or potential comparative advantage, such as tourism, food processing, fisheries and certain agricultural products.