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   Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service

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Media Release

Deputy Foreign Secretary Ali Opens Pacific ACP Meet

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29th June 2011, Suva: The Deputy Secretary for Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation Mr. Shaheen Ali, opened and chaired the meeting of the Pacific ACP States (PACPS) Technical Working Group on Fisheries (TWG-FISH) which was held at the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, from 27 -28 June 2011 in Nadi, Fiji. 

In his opening comments, Mr. Ali noted that PACPS share a common resource and source of wealth in fish. He said that the region, therefore, had a collective interest to manage the sustainable use of their valuable marine resources and related economic activity for the long-term benefit of their people. He said that PACP participation in the EPA negotiations on fisheries issues should, therefore, be guided by shared interests in securing long term sustainable exploitation of resources, developing land-based facilities and enhancing collective export capacity, including the export of high value fisheries products. Mr. Ali noted that the interim EPA has secured global sourcing derogation on Rules of Origin (ROO) for processed fish, allowing greater investment into and economic benefit from the export of canned fish. He said that the challenge now was to convince the EU to improve the ROO fresh and frozen fish with the access provision taken off the negotiating table. He said that global sourcing for fresh and frozen fish was of particular importance to small island states as they had limited processing capacity and were less able to benefit from the current derogations granted on processed fish. 

Mr. Ali said that the discussions and recommendations from the meeting would form the basis for negotiations and provide policy direction for fisheries provisions in the EPA.  He affirmed that the recommendations, after being endorsed by TWG-LICB and the PACP Trade Ministers, will be taken to the EU by the PACPS as their negotiating position to advance their interest with regards to fish.  He said that it was imperative that Officials, as technical experts, were fully aware of the realities of the region and that the recommendations of this meeting should be focused on the interest of all PACPS.  He urged the meeting to bear the collective interest of the region in mind during deliberations.

Trade and Fisheries officials from the following PACPS were present at the meeting: Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Representatives from the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Office were present at the Meeting. 

The Meeting was convened by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). The Meeting was chaired by Mr. Shaheen Ali, Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Fiji. The objective of the meeting was to consider various fisheries-related issues arising from the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between the PACPS and the European Union (EU).  In particular, the meeting focused on Part III of the draft comprehensive PACP-EU EPA on Fisheries as well as on Article 6.6 on fisheries-related rules of origin with a view to formulating a regional position on the issues.

Read the rest of Mr. Ali’s speech at Speeches