HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 579: 31 August 2011

Closing the gaps
Pacific Trade and Fisheries Ministers seek flexibility in closing the gaps between their aspirations for access to European markets and Europe’s gatekeepers.

Sustainable and responsible management of the Pacific Tuna Fishery was the important message arising from the recent Joint Pacific ACP States Fisheries and Trade Ministers’ meeting held in PNG on 8 August 2011.
The Cook Islands was represented by Deputy Prime Minister Hon Tom Marsters and Minister of Marine Resources Hon Teina Bishop.
The meeting was convened by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and chaired by Tonga’s Minister for Labour, Commerce and Industries Hon Lisiate Akolo who is the lead spokesperson of the negotiations with the European Union on the economic partnership agreement (EPA). The objective of the meeting was to consider various fisheries related issues arising out of the negotiations with a view to finalizing a regional position.
The Director General of the SPC Dr Jimmie Rodgers reminded Ministers that the fishery was the largest remaining fishery in the world and as such was attracting much attention from distant water fishing nations. He said for some Pacific Island countries, it was the only renewable resource that could be relied upon for future economic development.
Neroni Slade the Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat said under the Pacific Plan, Leaders have made a commitment to maximize sustainable returns from fisheries by developing an ecosystem based fisheries management planning framework; by encouraging effective fisheries development, including value adding activities; and through collaboration to ensure legislation and access frameworks are harmonized.
Slade urged Ministers to be mindful that a long term strategic approach must be taken and to Tuna species in particular.
PNG is increasing becoming a genuine hub in the Pacific for processed Tuna and PNG PM Hon Peter O’Neill said the interim EPA proved to be of great benefit to the Pacific in securing important market access in fisheries and that it could serve as a foundation for the development of a more comprehensive EPA. He said the region needed to seek the extension of “global sourcing” rules of origin to products falling under the Harmonised System headings 0304 and 0305 to create a market for Pacific fresh and frozen fish products in Europe. He also urged the European Commission (EC) to show flexibility in the EPA negotiations.
As to the way forward, the meeting made a number of decisions some relating to rules of origin to products, undertaking assessments of arrangements the EC has in place with other trading partners and the linking of EU access to development cooperation, onshore investment and securing of EEZs.
It was agreed a small group of Ministers travel to Brussels as a matter of urgency to meet further with the EC.
The FFA and other regional organizations were encouraged to establish and strengthen national competent authorities to facilitate exports to the European market through sub-regional approaches.
A report on the outcomes of the Pacific ACP Trade Ministers Meeting held in PNG on the next day, 9 August 2011 follows in this week’s Times. -Charles Pitt

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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